WIRELESS INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS WELCOME SENATE COMMITTEE VOTE TO PROTECT SMALL BUSINESSES AND RURAL AMERICANS
Washington, DC (June 15, 2016) – The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) is pleased that the Senate Commerce Committee today approved The Small Business Broadband Deployment Act (S. 2283).
The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), provides for a 3-year exemption for small ISPs – defined as those with fewer than 250,000 subscribers – from new, burdensome reporting requirements that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) included in its 2015 Open Internet Order.
The House counterpart, H.R. 4596, contains a 5-year exemption, which means the difference must be worked out in future negotiations before the bill can be enacted.
“Senators Daines and Manchin have been true leaders for rural Americans and small businesses. However, we are disappointed that the committee pulled back from the Daines-Manchin effort to mirror the House language, which was approved 411-0 and did not raise any objections from the Obama Administration,” said Alex Phillips, President of WISPA. “A three-year sunset on the exemption creates regulatory uncertainty that could inhibit small, rural ISPs from investing in their networks and creating rural jobs. We hope the Senate will come around to the House position.”
The FCC’s Open Internet Order introduced heightened transparency requirements for all Internet service providers. After recognizing the burden these requirements presented for small businesses, the FCC temporarily exempted ISPs with 100,000 or fewer subscribers from these new regulations. The FCC recently extended the exemption through December 2016.
As the bill moves forward, WISPA will continue to advocate for a permanent exemption, which would provide the greatest regulatory certainty and incentives for long-term investment in small ISPs. The FCC's public record was overwhelmingly in favor of a permanent extension, and the U.S. Small Business Administration also called for one.
WISPA is a membership-driven trade association that promotes the development, advancement and unity of the fixed wireless Internet service provider industry. WISPA has over 800 members that support WISPA’s advocacy, education and other collaborative industry initiatives. For more information, visit www.wispa.org.
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