Wireless Broadband Providers Urge FCC to Consider Impacts on Small Business in Its “Open Internet” Proceeding
Washington, DC (May 9, 2017) – Seventy small business leaders whose companies provide fixed wireless broadband service in under-served communities across the nation today submitted a joint letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), expressing support for the agency’s Open Internet proceeding.
The 70 business leaders, all members of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (www.WISPA.org), tell the FCC, “We are proud of the fact that, with the benefit of relatively low deployment costs, we are investing private, at-risk capital to build networks serving [consumers] in areas that other providers choose not to serve.”
However, the companies’ various business challenges “are exacerbated by the Title II Order the FCC adopted in 2015, which has significantly increased compliance burdens and regulatory risk through heavy-handed regulation that is rife with uncertainty.”
The WISPA members call on the FCC to keep three points in mind in the Open Internet proceeding. First, “we support, and have always supported” the consumer protection principles that help ensure an open and competitive internet. “We support retention of ‘bright line’ rules that prohibit blocking and throttling of traffic, and we oppose paid prioritization. We also support requirements to clearly disclose service terms to customers” and “do not sell our customers’ browsing data or other private information to third parties.”
Second, the WISPA group supports efforts to reverse the classification of broadband providers as “common carriers,” subject to extensive FCC regulations, and instead calls for “a return to the pre-2015 environment in which light-touch regulation enabled our businesses to get off the ground and become successful.” The group supports eliminating the general conduct rule, a “vague and open-ended catch-all” that potentially subjects legitimate business practices to FCC investigations and regulations.
Third, the group says the FCC “should always bear in mind that small businesses face disproportionate burdens in complying with ‘one-size-fits-all’ regulations” – burdens which delay build-outs to unserved areas and which create competitive advantages for larger competitors that can better absorb the costs.
Most U.S. WISPs are small and medium-sized businesses serving rural areas, with an average of about 1,200 customers and fewer than 10 employees. FCC regulations designed to treat all internet providers like large monopoly utilities are taking resources away from investment in broadband networks in under-served areas and diverting them toward lawyers and compliance consultants instead.
When FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan was first announced two weeks ago, WISPA President Alex Phillips said, “We appreciate that Chairman Pai intends to run an open, transparent process, and we look forward to working with the FCC to develop a regulatory scheme that enhances investment, innovation, and consumer choice, especially in under-served areas.”
WISPA is a membership-driven trade association that promotes the development, advancement and unity of the fixed wireless internet service provider industry. For more information, visit www.wispa.org.
Dale Curtis for WISPA, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: (202) 495-3701 (office) or 202-246-5659 (mobile)
Breyana Franklin, email@example.com, 301-346-0056 (mobile)
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Trina Coffey, firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-317-2851