Wireless ISP Group Seeks Net Neutrality Exemptions

Regulatory costs will hinder small businesses from competing in the market, WISPA says.

Wireless ISP Group Seeks Net Neutrality Exemptions
Photo of WISPA Vice President of Policy Louis Peraertz taken from LinkedIn

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2024 – When it comes to broadband regulation, one size does not fit all.

That was the policy recommendation of WISPA, a trade association for fixed wireless Internet Service Providers (ISPs). In a recent filing, WISPA urged the FCC to exempt small ISPs from key components of the agency’s Net Neutrality rules adopted in April.

WISPA’s definition of small included all ISPs that serve 250,000 subscribers or fewer.

Such a policy would prevent “compliance overload” and allow small providers to remain competitive in the broadband marketplace, WISPA said.

WISPA’s exemption request would include the bright line rules (no blocking, throttling or paid prioritization) in addition to the general conduct rule and new transparency rules.

WISPA’s proposal would shield the vast majority of ISPs from regulatory burdens, underscoring the top-heavy structure of the ISP sector.

“The 17 largest ISPs had nearly 85% of the total fixed broadband market share (114 million subscribers) as of December 31, 2023, and all of them exceeded this 250,000-subscriber threshold,” WISPA said. “Smaller providers are more resource-constrained... The FCC should adopt additional, more robust protections for these critical marketplace participants.” 

This request was presented by WISPA Vice President of Policy Louis Peraertz for the FCC’s consideration as the agency prepares its new State of Competition report to Congress.

The FCC’s Net Neutrality rules - which are being challenged in federal court - classified ISPs as utility-style common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act.

WISPA warned the FCC that leaving all Net Neutrality regulations in place - on top of recent inflation and supply chain disruptions - would strain small ISPs and force many of them out of the industry. 

WISPA had additional regulatory concerns. 

It said that certain requirements in the agency's new digital discrimination rules, such as “meticulously” documenting decisions related to deployment, would be an additional burden for small providers.

WISPA also requested that the FCC drop plans to ban bulk billing for multi-tenant households.

WISPA said bulk billing Internet bills can be 60% lower than normal retail rates. WISPA recommended that the FCC make provisions to ensure tenants have fair contracts.

“An outright ban on bulk billing agreements would paint with far too broad a brush,” WISPA said

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