On Tuesday, the FCC extended an exemption for smaller Internet Service Providers on the “transparency” portion of the Net Neutrality rules adopted earlier this year. That portion of the ruling requires broadband providers to provide detailed reports disclosing fees, data caps and network performance.
Back in February, the FCC voted to reclassify broadband Internet access under Title II of the Communications Act. At the time, they granted a temporary exemption for providers with fewer than 100,000 subscribers to the enhanced transparency requirements of the law. The commission has been under pressure to make that exemption permanent, but instead granted a one year extension to continue to assess the reporting burden on smaller providers.
In a statement, Chairman Tom Wheeler said “At the heart of this issue is the right of broadband customers, including the nearly 7 million customers of these exempt providers, to have access to essential information about their service—while at the same time ensuring the Bureau is able to conduct a thorough fact-based review.”
The Chairman’s statement also noted that all broadband providers, even those under 100,000 subscribers, are still subject to the original transparency rule established in 2010. That was the only portion of the 2010 Net Neutrality rules that were upheld by the court in a 2014 decision. The original transparency rule stated that providers must disclose their network management practices, and this requirement is still in place. The exemption that is being extended covers additional transparency requirements put in place in February that force providers to report their fees, data caps and network performance. ISPs with fewer than 100,000 subscribers will have one more year to comply with that additional requirement.