WISPA Hails FCC Decision Extending Small Business Relief

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Rural Americans to benefit by decision.

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Our members remain committed to an open Internet and informing the public about our pricing, speeds, and congestion management.

Yesterday, a Federal Communication Commission (FCC) bureau issued a decision that extends by one year the existing small business exemption to new Open Internet disclosure obligations. This decision, coming on the day that the exemption was set to expire, extended to December 15, 2016, the temporary exemption initially implemented by the FCC in February of 2015. Importantly, the bureau noted its expectation that the FCC would provide additional guidance and would seek further public comment in considering a permanent exemption.

“The public record overwhelmingly supports a permanent exemption, and we are cautiously optimistic that the FCC commissioners ultimately will follow the strong record in support of a permanent exemption,” said WISPA President Alex Phillips. “The order released last night acknowledges our claims that the FCC underestimated the burdens its new requirements will impose on small broadband providers, which would be passed on to underserved rural Americans living and working in rural communities that larger providers have passed over.”

WISPA and other national trade associations had urged the FCC to make permanent the temporary exemption for small broadband providers with 100,000 or fewer broadband connections. No party opposed a permanent exemption during the regular pleading cycle.

“Our members remain committed to an open Internet and informing the public about our pricing, speeds, and congestion management,” Phillips stated. “The current disclosure rules have proven sufficient to inform consumers and edge providers about broadband provider services and network management. Unfortunately, we will need to continue engaging with the FCC as it looks towards making this exemption permanent. Any other outcome will ultimately force rural Americans to foot the bill for their local broadband provider to comply with unnecessary and burdensome regulatory requirements.”

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Alex Phillips
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