The Federal Communications Commission laid out a wide-ranging policy agenda that aims to get rid of existing regulations at every level of government related to internet access and voted to change the definition of "sufficient competition" for internet services available to businesses, schools and hospitals at its monthly open meeting Thursday.

The commission is now seeking public comment on many of the proposed policies that would “remove regulatory barriers to wireline broadband infrastructure deployment.”

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Front and center at the FCC’s meeting was a vote on proposed changes to regulations on Business Data Services (BDS) — high-capacity broadband connections designed to serve businesses, schools, libraries and government agencies.

The rule change, which passed 2-1, will redefine “sufficient competition” in the business broadband market. Under the new rule, a county would be considered “competitive” if just 50 percent of businesses in the area are within a half mile of a location served by a broadband provider or if 75 percent of census blocks in the county have access to a cable provider.

When announced last week, the policy was met with a diverse coalition of opposition, including concerns voiced by U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, members of Congress and the European Union.

Mignon Clyburn, the lone Democrat on the commission, voted against the proposal, citing its potential harm to small businesses, schools and libraries. “Instead of looking out for millions of ‘little guys,’ the majority has again chosen to side with the interests of multibillion-dollar providers,” she said in her dissenting opinion.

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Advocacy group Public Knowledge also expressed dismay at the FCC’s decision to approve the measure. Phillip Berenbroick, senior policy counsel at Public Knowledge, noted 97 percent of businesses have access to two or fewer BDS providers, and three in four locations have only one option for internet service.

“Instead of taking action to promote competition and deployment, serve the public interest, and prevent the exercise of market power that is a drag on the U.S. economy, Chairman [Ajit] Pai and Commissioner [Michael] O’Reilly have approved an order that doubles down on incumbent market power, forcing businesses, hospitals, schools and ultimately consumers to pay more for essential connectivity,” Berenbroick said.

Outside the vote, the FCC also proposed several rules on which it is seeking public comment, including a plan to simplify how broadband internet providers attach their wires to utility poles to build out their networks.

The policy would streamline the timeframe for allowing access to the utility poles, which currently can take as long as five months. It also would reduce charges for attaching to an existing pole and establish a “shot clock” for the commission to consider pole attachment complaints.

The proposed change, which has the support of all three commissioners at the agency, also has been praised by upstart internet service providers that have had trouble gaining access to utility poles in areas dominated by major networks.

Google said it was “pleased the commission is taking up the issue of pole attachment timing" in an FCC filing last week. The search giant ran into significant issues as it attempted to set up its Google Fiber service in cities across the U.S., including refusals by companies like Comcast and AT&T to move their wires and make room for Google’s service.

While the streamlining of access to utility poles may have universal support as it helps companies build out next-generation networks, advocacy group Public Knowledge warned one rule change proposal that got less attention could end up doing harm to consumers who still count on existing technologies.

The FCC is proposing the elimination of the 2015 Technology Transitions Order, which was designed to ensure consumers and competition are protected as carriers swap their networks from legacy services to modern networks. The order requires a carrier to obtain approval from the FCC before discontinuing, reducing or impairing a service and disclose any change in prices or services when making changes to network infrastructure.

John Gasparini, a policy fellow at Public Knowledge, noted many services like fax machines, credit card readers, fire alarms and security systems operate on legacy networks, and individuals and businesses require sufficient notice to adapt to changes that may affect those systems.

“Efforts like the one started today undermine fundamental common-sense consumer protections,” Gasparini said. “Consumers, small businesses, the most vulnerable Americans, and anyone else who relies on stable phone networks may be left footing the bill for service that doesn’t meet their needs if the commission continues down this path.”