ISPs Will Have To Serve Two Or More Data-Collection Masters

Cable operators and other ISPs will have to provide data to
both the feds and whatever states ask for it, the FCC has decided.

The commission says its broadband mapping and data
collection efforts do not tread on states' rights to do the same thing.

In an order released Monday (April 26), the commission
granted (in part) a petition by the National Association of Regulatory Utility
Commissioners to clarify that point.

"[W]e conclude that the Commission has not preempted or
otherwise precluded the States from mandating that broadband providers file
data or other information regarding broadband infrastructure or services,"
the commission said.

The FCC said it was taking no position on whether any
individual state's laws authorize such collection, or whether states should be
doing so as a matter of policy. But it also said that it had clear authority to
preempt state regulations in some circumstances, but that in this case it had
concluded that it "has [not] exercised its delegated authority to preclude
the States from undertaking mandatory broadband information collection efforts."

The FCC has been directed by Congress to undertake a mapping
and data collection effort to identify areas most in need of help deploying and
adopting the broadband "ecosystem."

The commission rejected the suggestion that not preempting
state data collection would result in "multiple onerous and disparate
reporting requirements." Broadband providers suggested there was little
value-added from such duplicative efforts. But the FCC said that states were
capable of crafting "balanced" collection regimes that would
"supplement, rather than interfere with, federal information collection

It also said that to the extent that state efforts
"thwart" any federal policy, providers can ask the commission to preempt
them on a case-by-case basis.

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.