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FCC looking to eliminate UNE requirement



I guess this has been in the works for a bit now, but I’m just reading about it now, so it’s news to me.

One of the many new requirements stipulated in the '96 Telecommunications Act was that telcos had to provide Unbundled Network Elements (UNEs). Put simply, local telcos have to allow competitors to sell services over their infrastructure: things like the local loops, colocation space in the central office, etc. The telco lobby got a FCC proposal going to eliminate the requirement. The comments period is over now. I don’t know when it will be voted on, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Ajit and company forebear such a “burdonsome” regulation and let Big Telco have its way to drive competition out of the market.

Apparently, UNEs are relatively popular, both in urban and rural markets. This is a good overview of the situation. This describes how one small broadband provider in the Bay area used UNEs as they built a subscriber base and are building out their own fiber network. I was looking back through this guy’s blog and found a number of really interesting posts about broadband. Feel free to check it out:


Perhaps I was just a bit ahead of the mainstream because now Engadget is writing about it.

The reasoning for eliminating UNEs is that “if we cut people off they [the incumbent] will be forced to deploy more fiber and therefore there’ll be more fiber and more high speed internet and that will mean lower prices”

Oh right…Yeah sure…I totally agree. /s No, the big incumbents will continue to provide the same terrible service for more money and any more profits they get from eliminating their competition will NOT go into a fiber buildout, but instead go to their executives and shareholders.


It boggles the mind. head splodes

It says that freeing them up from this obligation will allow them to build faster, cheaper networks for consumers.


How exactly is this a realistic statement. How have UNE’s been preventing them from building faster, cheaper networks?
Particularly with UNE’s as regards to copper infrastructure…

New small ISP’s have actually used UNE’s as infrastructure as a startup lifeline, ultimately to install fibre that the incumbent carriers haven’t been doing even elsewhere on their own lines.

I also really don’t trust the statement that the infrastructure is being upgraded to be able to offer ‘faster, cheaper’ networks.

No… No… No…

This is a business, the infrastructure isn’t being upgraded unless there is an incentive to do so. Not when you have as the incumbent already captured almost your entire market over the area you have access to.

Smaller ISP’s on the other hand have a growth incentive to install modern infrastructure, to attract more customers, to be price competitive against the incumbents, in addition to being able to charge comparatively more than for the older copper lines for the newer fibre.

Without these small ISP’s to push the ball forward, progress will be a lot slower.

The FCC really has become a tool of the leading ISP’s with Ajit Pai as it’s hammer.


In a lot of states une is basically already dead. Ky for example is a dumpster fire already.

I know a guy that used an alarm circuit in a rural place to do his own point to point network circuit to his employer. XDSL or something like that with $1k modems. He piggybacked on his employers internet connection. So he had an alarm circuit from his house to his employers building. And they had like a bonded t1 or something.

He tried to help one of his relatives that lives just two blocks away setup the same thing and “oh we no longer offer that type of service” after 8+ hours of phone calls, run around and faxing copies of his exiting bill in to try to sign up someone else on that. The cost on the alarm circuit w/o internet? Just point to point ? $30/mo

This was like 10 years ago.


That sounds rather shockingly shonky. I’m not fully clued in one the US situation.

But in south africa we have a similar UNE setup that allows other ISP’s access to telkom (the incumbents) ISP’s lines etc.

Without it much of the current fibre boom in SA would simply never have happened.


MWeb, AfriHost, Cybersmart, Axxess, Vox Telecom, BitCo, iConnect, Crystal Web, Web Africa to name a few have all been able to start and offer internet services at first mainly through the UNE Platform to customers.

Almost all of which offered better pricing and packages than the incumbent telkom (who’s line and platform one still relied on) before later deploying Fibre to the home and premises long before and at better pricing than Telkom itself.

Perhaps in the US the situation varies quite a bit. Personally I want to say I’ve seen the model work, so I’m willing to bet that it’s had positive effects in the US too.

As regards to KY and similar situations:
Perhaps at some point a cutoff limit has to be decided if it’s proving to be worse than the incumbent. OpenWeb in South Africa is one example of something worse than a flaming dumpster fire.

This is just but a small slice