WISPA CALLS ON FCC TO MAINTAIN CONSUMER PROTECTIONS WHILE DROPPING ONEROUS “NET NEUTRALITY” REGULATIONS
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Washington, DC – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a “golden opportunity” to close the rural broadband gap while ensuring an open and competitive Internet, according to the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (www.WISPA.org).
In comments filed today at the FCC in that agency’s “Restoring Internet Freedom” proceeding, WISPA says its members continue to support policies that prohibit blocking and throttling of traffic, or paid prioritization of favored content. WISPA supports requirements to disclose service terms to customers, and its members do not sell customers’ browsing data or other private information to third parties.
However, the FCC’s 2015 decision to begin regulating broadband providers like utilities under Title II of the Communications Act – with a goal of ensuring “net neutrality” – has resulted in “harmful uncertainty” that has undermined investor confidence, WISPA says.
For example, in a recent WISPA member survey, 80 percent of respondents said the uncertainties surrounding Title II regulation had caused delays and cutbacks in network expansion and services, and had imposed significant compliance costs.
“The Commission cannot have it both ways: it cannot impose disproportionate burdens on small broadband providers at the same time that it expects them to drive future deployment to our nation’s unserved communities and those where consumers lack competitive choice,” the filing states.
“This proceeding offers a golden opportunity for the Commission to right a wrong – the imposition of heavy-handed, ‘one-size-fits-all’ regulations on small broadband providers that are less able to accommodate the costs, burdens, and uncertainties of the comprehensive Title II regime.”
“Restoring broadband service to ‘information’ service classification and eliminating the ‘general conduct standard’ will significantly reduce regulatory burdens, reduce compliance costs, reduce enforcement risks and uncertainty, and increase the ability of broadband providers to reach unserved and underserved communities,” the group adds.
In May, 70 small broadband providers submitted a joint letter to the FCC, urging “a return to the pre-2015 environment in which light-touch regulation enabled our businesses to get off the ground and become successful.”
Most U.S. WISPs are small businesses serving rural areas, with an average of about 1,200 customers. The majority of WISPs have fewer than 10 employees. Collectively, America’s WISPs serve more than 4 million consumers in all 50 states. Fixed wireless is considered the key to closing the rural broadband gap because of its low costs and ease of deployment compared to other broadband technologies. But disproportionate regulatory burdens and obstacles are holding them back, the group says.
Dale Curtis for WISPA
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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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