New FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has taken swift action to reinstate an expired exemption to waive enhanced transparency reporting requirements for “mom-and-pop” wireless internet service providers.
On Friday, Pai announced he was circulating an order to his fellow FCC Commissioners that would grant small ISPs with 250,000 subscribers or less a five-year waiver from the enhanced transparency reporting requirements that were instated under the FCC’s Open Internet Order. Pai said the measure “mirrors the bipartisan compromise” contained in the Small Business Broadband Deployment Act which was introduced on Capitol Hill earlier this month.
Pai’s order would bring relief to small ISPs previously covered under the FCC’s previous exemption who found themselves forced to take up “onerous” reporting this month following that waiver’s expiration in December. The Small Business Broadband Deployment Act sought to do the same, but while it passed the House on Jan. 10, it has yet to be approved by the Senate.
Like the legislation on Capitol Hill, the measure circulated by Pai would expand the number of companies covered by the exemption by raising the inclusion threshold from companies with up to 100,000 subscribers to companies up to 250,000 subscribers.
“Federal regulations have a disproportionate effect on small businesses—businesses that are often the linchpin of a more competitive marketplace and that don’t necessarily have compliance resources. Accordingly, I believe the FCC should be sensitive to the impact regulations can have on such businesses. I have proposed and voted in favor of this exemption in order to be faithful to that commitment,” Pai said in a statement. “I remain hopeful that the full Commission will adopt this bipartisan compromise swiftly. Further delay will only force the companies to divert scarce resources away from investing in rural America and toward filling out needless paperwork.”
According to Pai, the FCC measure already has the support of fellow Republican Commissioner Michael O’Rielly. Lone Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn will also likely support the measure, given her harsh words for the Commission earlier this month following that body’s inability to address the needs of small broadband providers sooner.
Competitive Carriers Association CEO Steve Berry on Friday applauded Pai’s “swift action” on the matter following his appointment as FCC Chairman less than a week prior.
“I am very pleased Chairman Pai has taken such swift action to help ensure small business providers are relieved of the enhanced transparency reporting requirements,” Berry commented. “With significant bipartisan support in Congress, it only makes sense to grant a waiver for small businesses, and I commend the Chairman and Commissioner O’Rielly for voting in favor of the item. The majority of CCA members are small businesses who want to focus on their customers rather than complying with unnecessary obligations, and I encourage the Commission to adopt the bipartisan compromise as soon as possible.”
Filed Under: Industry regulations