On Wednesday, the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau extended the ongoing exemption from applying the enhanced transparency requirements of the 2015 Open Internet Order to small providers. As a result, small providers (those with 100,000 or fewer broadband subscribers) will continue to be exempt from the agency’s new “enhanced” transparency requirements for the foreseeable future. However, we remind all service providers that they remain subject to the Commission’s 2010 transparency rule (as evidenced by the Enforcement Bureau’s enforcement actions earlier this year). For that reason, all service providers should continue to review existing disclosure statements to ensure that their existing disclosure statements are accurate and complete.
The Bureau concluded that it is not able to sufficiently evaluate the impact on small providers and instead pushed the question to the full Commission. Preliminary indications are that the full Commission will not make a final decision until the third or fourth quarter of 2016. The Bureau noted that the FCC has not yet completed its assessment of the compliance burden of the enhanced transparency rules, nor have the rules been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). We anticipate OMB action on the rule early in 2016, but until such time the FCC’s new transparency rule is not yet in effect.