ISPs Seek Hill Help on Transparency Exemption

The heads of associations representing smaller ISPs have asked Congress to step in and make sure that they won't be subject to the FCC's enhanced broadband transparency rules when they take effect Jan. 17.

The FCC's temporary exemption for operators with 100,000 or fewer subs expired Dec. 15 and the chairman's proposal to extend it did not get voted before thate date due to disagreement over whether the exemption trigger should be raised to 250,000 or fewer subs.

Republicans taking over the FCC have signaled they want the exemption extended and would not support action in the interim, but the groups are not taking any chances.

In a letter to congressional leaders, the American Cable Association, Competitive Carriers Association, NTCA: The Rural Broadband Association, and the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, said:

"Unfortunately, because of unexpected inaction by the Federal Communications Commission, small broadband providers, who make up the majority of our associations, now face the prospect of imminent and irreparable harm from the rules going into effect in less than three weeks. To prevent this unjust outcome, we ask that you act again, and advance legislation relieving small businesses of these burdens as the 115th Congress convenes."

The again reference was to the fact that the recipients of the letter had backed the bipartisan Small Business Broadband Deployment Act, which would have extended the exemption by statute if it had managed to make it to the President's desk.

The bill, which has a 250,000 trigger, actually passed the House twice, but did not make it through the Senate.

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.