FCC Proposes Broadband Outage Reporting

The FCC voted Thursday to propose requiring interconnected VOiP and broadband ISPs to report broadband network outages.

Currently those reporting requirements apply to traditional phone service, but not the cable operators and others serving the growing cadre of phone cord-cutters using broadband voice. The idea is to extend those rules to the new technology.

Driving the issue is the robustness of broadband 9/11 service, which the FCC mandated five years ago, and insuring continued communications in emergencies.

There were no nay votes on the item, and only four total votes with Commissioner Meredith Baker not participating due to her announced departure for NBCU. Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell concurred in part, saying he had issues with the FCC's authority to support the proposed regulation. It is asserting ancillary authority, as it did in adopting its network neutrality rules, which McDowell opposed citing the question of authority.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the FCC would be mindful of its authority, and of operators' "constraints," but that the commission has public safety responsibilities it needs to fulfill through extending the reporting requirement to an increasingly important phone service.

Genachowski said the FCC would take comments on the authority issue, but had no doubt the outage reporting requirement was within its purview.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.