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ACA: FCC Needs Light Touch In Network Outage Reporting Requirements

The American Cable Association called on the Federal Communications Commission to minimize regulatory burdens on small cable companies in the event the agency imposes network outage reporting requirements on VoIP and broadband Internet access providers, a step that would require companies to devote scarce capital to the acquisition of expensive network monitoring equipment, software and personnel.

"The FCC must refrain from layering additional regulatory burdens on small and rural broadband access providers for the sole purpose of network outage reporting. The agency should work to ensure that these providers are not unnecessarily burdened," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.

Along with many stakeholders, ACA is urging the FCC to postpone action in this area until after its legal jurisdiction to regulate VoIP and broadband Internet access providers has become less unsettled.

"There is widespread concern about the wisdom of FCC action until more is known about its legal authority to act, even among entities that believe such jurisdiction exists. ACA agrees that significant questions exist concerning the FCC's authority to expand its outage reporting requirements and that the better course of action is to resolve those questions before proceeding," Polka said.

Apart from threshold legal matters, ACA's comments filed Aug. 8 at the FCC focused on the need for the agency to refrain from imposing costly regulatory burdens on VoIP and broadband access providers, especially now when ACA's members face serious capital constraints in a difficult economy. ACA members utilize a variety of methods to determine when, where, and why the network has gone down. As a result, the FCC should take these different methods into account and not require broadband network operators to generate new information that they do not currently have the ability to collect.

"A rule that requires monitoring over and above that which broadband providers are currently capable of could require significant new expenditures in network monitoring equipment, software, and personnel.  Such a requirement would place additional burdens on ACA members, who are already actively investing in their broadband networks to increase capacity, extend their networks, and increase redundancy to limit outages," Polka said.

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