On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the Small Business Broadband Deployment Act that exempts small ISPs from certain transparency requirements of the FCC’s Open Internet Order of 2015. The vote was a unanimous 411-0. Providers with less than 250,000 subscribers get five years of immunity from having to disclose information like monthly data charges, data caps and network performance.
The American Cable Association and other groups representing small ISPs have previously argued that the enhanced requirements would impose time-consuming and costly compliance obligations, but the FCC only extended the existing temporary exemption for a limited time. “After reviewing the record at the FCC and receiving testimony at its hearing on the legislation in January, the Communications and Technology Subcommittee found there was more than sufficient evidence to further expand and extend the exemption,” the trade groups said in a congressional letter a day prior to the vote.
After the vote, the Competitive Carrier Association lauded members of Congress for “crafting a common sense bipartisan bill that gives small network operators greater certainty.” CCA President and CEO Steven K. Berry, says, “I thank the entire House for passing the Small Business Broadband Deployment Act, which will benefit consumers, the economy and the entire mobile ecosystem as a whole, and look forward to working with the Senate to send this commonsense legislation to the president.”
Public Knowledge maintains that the legislation was not wholly necessary because the FCC had already voted to exempt smaller broadband providers from the transparency rules in its original Open Internet proceeding, but the group did applaud this bill for “respecting the FCC’s authority to ensure essential consumer protections over broadband Internet access.”
“Perhaps most significantly, the bill’s continuation serves as a model of what a functional bipartisan progress looks like when Democrats and Republicans are willing to meet one another at the table,” Kate Forscey, associate counsel for government affairs at Public Knowledge, says.
Filed Under: Industry regulations