WASHINGTON, September 28, 2009 - State utility commissioners want the Federal Communications Commission to put broadband carriers on notice that the agency’s own broadband data collection does not relieve operators of the obligation to comply with state requests.
In papers filed with the FCC on Friday, The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners asked the commission to issue a declaratory ruling which would clarify that in collecting data from broadband carriers, the commission is not asserting any preemption over state-level mapping efforts.
NARUC endorsed such a ruling at its July 2009 meeting, during which it passed a resolution asking the FCC to provide states with the Form 477 data in compliance with the 2008 Broadband Data Improvement Act.
The resolution further requests the commission to clarify that it has not asserted "any general preemption of any State actions," specifically those having to do with broadband mapping.
"Congress has been crystal clear...that it wants to promote the deployment and adoption of advanced services," NARUC said in its petition "and that it wants States to play a key role in those efforts."
NARUC passed the resolution in response to carriers resistance to state-level broadband mapping efforts, said District of Columbia Public Services Commission chairman Betty Ann Kane. Federal law actually requires states to conduct broadband mapping, Kane said.
But efforts by states to collect data in a more granular manner than the FCC have been resisted by broadband service providers. Carriers are justifying withholding of data by claiming the FCC process preempts any single state program, Kane said. "The carriers have not been forthcoming in making the information the states need available," Kane explained in an interview. "Just because [the FCC] is asking for data doesn't mean the states can't."
Kane said she is "very hopeful" the commission will act on NARUC's petition and issue a declaratory ruling. When contacted for this story, FCC spokeswoman Jen Howard said she had no comment on the matter.
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