Cable/telecom trade group ACA Connects is telling the FCC that it should not mandate Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) participation by its members.
The FCC is seeking comment on potential changes to the system and suggested that smaller providers may not be volunteering information to the system as much as larger providers do, and so might need the impetus of a mandate.
The FCC is seeking input on DIRS, the web-based system it created in 2007 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, including on whether to make the voluntary system mandatory.
ACA Connects said it was tough to tell from the NPRM the extent to which smaller operators don't participate and to what degree nonparticipation affects the "situational awareness" of the FCC and federal agencies, suggesting smaller systems might not significantly improve that awareness.
ACA Connects said it wanted to be clear it supports and encourages DIRS participation, but that a mandate could pull staffers away from critical tasks in a disaster, the same argument broadcasters made for opposing the mandate.
Also like broadcasters, ACA Connects members are advising the FCC against backup power mandates, the cost of which the association says could divert funds from network upgrades and expansions--expanding broadband deployment being a big priority at the FCC. It also suggested the increased cost of compliance could wind up on consumer's bills and "suppress broadband adoption," another FCC priority. ■
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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.