FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and the Competitive Carriers Association blasted the government’s inability to extend an exemption for small businesses from enhanced transparency requirements as those kicked in on Tuesday.
The FCC previously granted an exemption for small Internet Service Providers with fewer than 100,000 subscribers, but that measure expired in December and the Commission did not pass an extension before the Jan. 17 deadline for reporting closed in. Hope loomed on the horizon last week in the form of a bill – dubbed The Small Business Boradband Deployment Act – which would exempt ISPs with fewer than 250,000 subscribers from transparency requirements that were required by the FCC’s Open Internet order. But while that measure was passed by the House on Jan. 10, it hadn’t yet made it through the Senate as of the Tuesday deadline.
In a Tuesday statement, Clyburn castigated the Commission for its failure to address the needs of small broadband providers, which she said left the latter with an “undue burden.”
“This means that now, even providers with just a handful of customers, must comply with every one of the enhancements to our transparency rules,” Clyburn said. ““I am extremely disappointed that the Commission did not reach consensus on extending the exemption pending resolution of a rulemaking on this issue. Over a month ago, I voted to establish commonsense protections for small service providers from these enhanced requirements: the only FCC Commissioner to do so. I acted then, and still today feel, that while increased transparency is desirable, we should never abandon our duty to ensure that regulatory benefits outweigh regulatory burdens, particularly when it comes to small businesses.”
Clyburn’s disappointment and reproach was seconded by CCA President and CEO Steven Berry, who said “the vast majority of CCA members are small providers that want to focus on serving their customers, rather than spending valuable time, resources and energy trying to comply with additional unnecessary requirements.”
“Today is a tough day for small business providers everywhere, and I hope the FCC will heed Commissioner Clyburn’s call, previously advanced by Commissioners Pai and O’Rielly, and fix the mistake of letting the exemption expire,” Berry commented.
It seems, though, that providers may not have long to wait for relief.
As reported in Wireless Week’s sister publication, CED, the American Cable Association last week indicated leaders of the incoming FCC regime – who will take their place as the majority on Jan. 20 – have “provided assurances that smaller providers did not have to fear ‘any adverse actions’ regarding alleged non-compliance pending the new FCC leaders’ own action to waive the compliance obligations for small ISPs.”
Filed Under: Industry regulations