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FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly Calls Title II Regulations ‘Harmful,’ ‘Problematic’

Expects FCC Will Revisit The Rulemaking

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 29, 2017 - Federal Communications Commissioner Michael O'Rielly expects the agency to revisit its 2015 decision to reclassify broadband Internet access as a telecom service and subject to Title II regulation. While not wanting to preempt any announcement from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Commissioner O'Rielly told ACA members at Summit 24 that he "hopes" the FCC will revisit the issue.

"I've said publicly that I didn't agree with the decision that was made. I hope we will have opportunity to reopen that decision this year. I suspect we will," said O'Rielly in a Q&A with ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.

O'Rielly continued, "There are pieces of the decision that I don't agree with - no matter how it's being discussed, whether at the Commission or Congress. I disagree quite strenuously with the ban on paid prioritization, and I disagree with the General Conduct standard. I think these are really harmful policies and problematic for future communications policies," he added.

Regarding the March 28 vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to roll back the FCC's Internet privacy rules, O'Rielly said it was "not a surprising vote."

He added, "I didn't agree with the decision at the time and had quite a lengthy dissent. I think it was incredibly problematic how it attempted to bifurcate the industry. I have a totally different vision than the former Chairman." President Trump is expected to give final approval to the rollback of the FCC's privacy regulations.

O'Rielly also suggested to ACA's independent cable operators that he's ready to reverse the FCC's decision to require Charter to overbuild other providers.

Last May, the FCC approved Charter's twin mergers with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks with a host of conditions, including one requiring Charter to deploy broadband Internet access service (BIAS) of 60 Mbps or more to at least 1 million locations in areas already served by BIAS providers offering speeds of at least 25 Mbps.

"There's something that's completely problematic from my viewpoint and something hopefully that we're going to address," O'Rielly said. "Having a provider forced into building into other providers is very problematic in my opinion."

With ACA members poised to take their concerns to Capitol Hill, O'Rielly urged the association to bring its concerns to the FCC.

"Come to me with top 10 things that you believe the Commission can do to make your life easier -- that are no longer necessary and are required by statute, and that don't necessarily cause other industry segments to have a heart attack," he said.

ACA's Polka pledged to provide that list and invite O'Rielly back next year.

The ACA Summit is a special event where small and mid-sized cable operators serving hometown America connect with the leading lawmakers and regulators as well as media representatives on the communications policy beat in Washington, D.C.  This year's summit coincides with the start of a new Congress and a new President in the White House focused on passing legislation designed to reduce regulatory burdens on communications providers and other businesses.

Please visit the ACA Summit 2017 website by clicking here: ACA Summit.  The event is taking place at the Grand Hyatt, 1000 H Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20001.  This year's Summit is ACA's 24th annual "fly-in" to Washington with its members and, as such, will use the hashtag #Summit24 for all social media about the event.

ACA's more than 750 independent cable operators play a unique role in providing best-in-class communications services to millions of consumers, many living and working in rural areas of the country.  Created in the early 1990s, the ACA Summit gives independent cable operators a vehicle for framing the diverse and complex issues in their own words during dozens of meetings on Capitol Hill and with regulators at the FCC.

About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing nearly 750 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for nearly 7 million cable subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America.  Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA's members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business.  For more information, visit http://www.americancable.org/

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