ISPs Ask FCC to Stick to Original (Backup) Power Play

Cable and telco wired ISPs have asked the FCC to stay the course when it comes to its decision earlier this year not to mandate that fixed VoIP providers install and maintain battery backup for all their customers in case of emergency.

The FCC had decided to require those providers to offer up to eight hours of backup power for their VoIP phone service and inform consumers of their backup power options at the point of purchase but not to make those ISPs "solely responsible for continuity of a customer’s service [primarily 911 capability] during a power outage," as the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, American Cable Association and USTelecom phrased it in a filing last week supporting the initial FCC decision.

Various consumer advocates challenged the FCC decision, petitioning it to reconsider the decision, saying those ISPs should have to provide backup to all customers.

The cable and telco ops pointed out that during outages, even those with landline service—which, unlike fixed VoIP, is independently powered and doesn’t go out—"appear to rely on mobile wireless service as their primary means of communication during a power outage or other emergency."

The ISPs said that while providing the eight-hour backup option was a reasonable requirement, mandating that they purchase such capability—the cost of having to supply backup capability to all customers would, naturally, be borne by all customers—was unnecessary and a paternalistic approach to regulation that "would place significant new burdens on consumers and providers of such services."

Not surprisingly, they asked the FCC to reject the petition.

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.