FCC Relies on Fallacies, Not Evidence, in Special Access Order

buy canibus Lyrical law “How does the FCC justify taking action without an adequate evidentiary basis? By relying on a series of fallacies to provide an aura of evidence without actually having any. That’s a problem for an agency that wants to be seen as fact-based and data driven. Fallacies are like zeros: No matter how many you have, you still have nothing.”

can i buy Pregabalin in spain Yesterday the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), our government’s communications industry experts, issued an order that would flunk an introductory college course in logic. Despite issuing multiple data requests, in October 2011, the FCC told the DC Circuit Court of Appeals that it “lacked a sufficient evidentiary record” to document claims that its “pricing flexibility rules” governing special access were flawed. The FCC’s evidentiary record hasn’t improved, but it suspended its pricing flexibility rules on a so-called “interim” basis anyway while it tries to figure out how to obtain the data it needs to do a transparent, data based analysis.

How does the FCC justify taking action without an adequate evidentiary basis? By relying on a series of fallacies to provide an aura of evidence without actually having any. That’s a problem for an agency that wants to be seen as fact-based and data driven. Fallacies are like zeros: No matter how many you have, you still have nothing.

Consider these fallacies:

Naked Assertion: A fallacy in which a premise in an argument is assumed to be true merely because it says it is true.

In his separate statement, Genachowski says the FCC is suspending its rules “Based on the record and the undisputed finding that legacy regulations are not working as intended.” What undisputed finding? Commissioners McDowell and Pai disputed this finding in their dissenting statements (here and here), because the FCC lacks sufficient evidence to determine whether or not the rules are working as intended.

Loaded Question: A fallacy in which someone asks a question that presupposes something that hasn’t been proven or accepted by everyone involved.

Genachowski relies on this fallacy to attack the dissenting Commissioners. He says, “My colleagues’ dissents struggle to explain why the Commission should ignore the record and maintain a broken system,” which presupposes the system is “broken.” Genachowski also says the “dissenters have no answer to the harm their approach would cause,” which presupposes the pricing flexibility rules are causing “harm.” But, as their dissenting statements demonstrate, McDowell and Pai don’t believe the rules are broken or causing harm.

Shifting the Burden of Proof: According to the rules of logic, the burden of proof is always on the person who is asserting something. This fallacy shifts the burden of proof to the person who denies or questions the assertion.

The “evidence” regarding special access hasn’t changed since Genachowski testified under oath, “there is no point in doing something” about special access “that is not based on facts and data.” The only thing that changed was the burden of proof. Rather than require the proponents of special access regulation to prove market failure with solid evidence, the FCC assumed market failure based on fragmented, outdated data regarding colocation in the wire centers of certain local exchange carriers in select geographic areas. It “acknowledge[d] that this evidence is limited,” but nevertheless believed the evidence “suggests . . . the accuracy of the use of collocations as a proxy for actual or potential competition warrants further investigation.” Based on this evidence warranting further investigation, the FCC presumes its pricing flexibility rules “have not worked as intended.”

But, the FCC rejected countervailing evidence of special access competition from competitors that don’t collocate in wire centers, e.g., cable providers. Despite its own finding just last month that 98.5 percent of U.S. homes are served by cable providers – whose networks are typically capable of higher broadband speeds than regulated special access services – the FCC found in its special access order that, because it lacks “reliable data on the extent or location of this [non-collocated] competition, it does not change our conclusion that new pricing flexibility petitions should be suspended at this time.

In effect, the FCC shifted the burden of proof by relying on flimsy evidence to support its assertion while rejecting countervailing evidence as “unreliable.”

The saddest fallacy of all is Genachowski’s assertion that this order will promote broadband competition. Encouraging potential competitors to lease narrowband special access lines from incumbent telephone companies at government-regulated rates won’t promote “broadband” or provide the benefits of free market competition. Making special access lines available at government subsidized rates will only encourage potential competitors to become reliant on the services of the incumbents. Why should competitors build innovative, ultra high-speed fiber networks that would provide real competition when the government is giving them a break on copper wire?

One Comment

  • Bloopy says:

    This is just goofy. You can’t honestly believe that freezing new grants of special access pricing flexibility is going to “encourage competitors to become reliant on the services of the incumbents,” can you? Average special access T-1 costs are already
    more than $125/month for 1.5 Mbps of symmetrical service, surely the highest cost-per-Megabit for broadband of any product a competitor could buy. There is no economic incentive to purchase service like this unless there is absolutely no other choice, and
    no amount of messing with the rules is going to change this. If you want to argue that four old, fully depreciated copper wires plus some old, fully depreciated electronics (most of it bought or built during the grand old monopoly days) is worth more than
    $125 monthly, go ahead (and good luck to you). But your incentives argument is ridiculous. Competitors only buy T-1s when they have no other choice, and AT&T and Verizon are not making investment decisions based on what is happening with special access.