Wireless ISPs Seek Tweaks in Affordable Connectivity Program Draft

A man connects to wifi on his phone
(Image credit: Kittichai Boonpong / EyeEm via Getty Images)

Wireless internet service providers have some modifications they are asking the Federal Communications Commission to make to its draft Affordable Connectivity Program broadband subsidy before it adopts the rules by Congress‘ January 14 deadline.

That came in meetings Monday between WISPA, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, and top FCC officials.

The modifications, according to an ex parte filing by WISPA, include: 1) ISPs should be reimbursed for partial services because if, as proposed, there are no subsidies for service provided for only part of a month, that will discourage ISPs from participating if they are forced to absorb those “lost costs;” and 2) the FCC should allow providers to downgrade the service due to subscriber nonpayment, as long as advance notice is given, rather than not being allowed to downgrade without the subscriber‘s advance consent.

Also: FCC Won't Set Minimum Service Standards for Affordable Connectivity Program Bucks

WISPA also said the draft rules as presently written would allow a subscriber disconnected for nonpayment to re-enroll and the ISP could not deny them because of their nonpayment history. The ISP would then have to wait 90 days before de-enrolling them if they do not pay, a cycle that could continue ad infinitum.

WISPA did say it was on board with the FCC's decision to prohibit credit checks for subsidy recipients and to adopt a hybrid opt-in/opt-out approach to transitioning subscribers from the Emergency Broadband Benefit program that the ACP supplants. ■

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.