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FCC Lets “Billion-Dollar” ISPs Hide Fees and Data Caps, Democrat Says

Accepted submission by Fnord666 at 2017-02-24 04:42:06

ISPs with 250,000 or fewer subscribers won't have to follow rules that require greater disclosures about fees and data caps after a vote today [] by the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC's Republican majority approved the change to help small providers avoid "onerous reporting obligations" included in the 2015 net neutrality order, they said. But by setting the threshold at 250,000 subscribers and exempting small ISPs owned by larger companies, the FCC is effectively "exempt[ing] billion-dollar public companies" from rules that can be complied with in mere hours each year, said Mignon Clyburn, the FCC's only Democrat.

The commission's 2015 order temporarily exempted ISPs with 100,000 or fewer subscribers from the so-called enhanced transparency requirements [], but that exemption expired in December 2016. Clyburn said she would support reinstating the exemption for ISPs with 100,000 or fewer subscribers, but she dissented from today's order [].

The 250,000-subscriber exemption won't apply to the top broadband providers such as Comcast, Charter, AT&T, Verizon, and others. But it will exempt many ISPs owned by conglomerates, Clyburn said.

"Many of the nation's largest broadband providers are actually holding companies, comprised of many smaller operating companies," Clyburn said. "So what today's Order does is exempt these companies' affiliates that have under 250,000 connections by declining to aggregate the connection count at the holding company level."

The original exemption [] for ISPs with 100,000 or fewer subscribers was applied to the aggregated total of subscribers "across all affiliates," so that small ISPs owned by big holding companies wouldn't be exempt. That changed today, according to Clyburn.

Source: ArsTechnica []

Original Submission