No Continuing Exemption for Small Broadband Providers, But This Could Change

In its 2015 Open Internet Order, the FCC adopted certain “enhancements” to its Internet transparency rule, which covers both content and format of disclosures made by broadband providers. Late last week, the FCC issued a Public Notice announcing January 17, 2017, as the effective date for the new enhanced requirements now that Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved the requirements.

When the FCC adopted the enhanced disclosure requirements in March 2015, it temporarily exempted providers with 100,000 or fewer broadband subscribers until such an exemption could be further evaluated (see JSI’s April 13, 2015, e-Lert for more information). At the end of last year, the FCC extended the exemption until December 15, 2016. That date passed with the FCC granting no further formal extension.

But there still could be hope for small ISPs. In a letter today to NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association, American Cable Association, Competitive Carriers Association, CTIA and WISPA-Wireless Internet Service Providers, Commissioners Pai and O’Rielly said they remained focused on permanently exempting small businesses from these requirements. “We want to assure you and your members that we would not support any adverse actions against small business providers for supposed non-compliance with the ‘enhanced transparency’ rules after that date, and we will seek to revisit those particular requirements, and the Title II Net Neutrality proceeding more broadly, as soon as possible,” the letter said.

This is in addition to a joint statement the two Republican commissioners made last week that said that they “remain hopeful that a consensus exemption can be achieved at the Commission in the coming months ahead in addition to reviewing the overall burdens themselves.”

JSI will continue to update clients with any new developments. JSI also can assist any clients that would still like to implement the enhanced disclosure requirements. For more information about enhancements to the transparency rule, the possible extension of the exemption for small providers, or anything related to compliance with the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules, please contact Terri Parrilla or Cassandra Heyne in JSI’s Maryland office at 301-459-7590.

Source: JSI e-Lert