Relieving Regulatory Burdens for Small Business and Protecting Consumers
The bipartisan legislation seeks to protect small businesses from onerous transparency requirements included in the FCC’s Open Internet Order. This bill allows small businesses to focus on improving services for consumers and creating jobs. The legislation extends the small business Internet Service Providers (ISP) exemption for five years, sets the regulatory threshold at 250,000 subscribers or fewer, and requires the FCC to report to Congress on the impact of the exemption. H.R. 4596 passed out of committee by voice vote.
- This bill protects small businesses from burdensome regulations and allows small ISPs to focus on building networks, deploying broadband, improving connectivity for rural consumers, and creating jobs.
- A view from the frontlines: One small provider testified about the harmful impact that compliance with these requirements could have on business decisions and investment, saying “Every dollar spent on unnecessary regulatory compliance is one dollar that is not being spent on new hires, network upgrades, and expansion.”
- In the 2015 Open Internet Order, the FCC adopted burdensome enhanced transparency requirements for ISPs, including disclosure of commercial terms for prices and other fees, and a number of complicated performance metrics.
- Recognizing that these enhanced requirements could be especially burdensome for small providers, particularly the disclosure of data that rely on technical information that small ISPs may not currently collect, the FCC temporarily exempted ISPs with 100,000 or fewer subscribers.
- Despite the record at the FCC overwhelmingly supporting a permanent extension of the exemption, the Commission instead extended the current exemption for an additional year.
- H.R. 4596 eases the burdens on small business by extending the exemption to 250,000 subscribers or less.
- The bill does not diminish consumer access to information, as the ISPs are still subject to the all-applicable information disclosure rules.