ACA Issues Get Hill Hearing

Walden Spotlights Inaction on NCTC Petition

House Republican leaders put a spotlight on some small cable operator issues during a Federal Communications Commission oversight hearing in the Communications Subcommittee.

Subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), in questioning Republican commissioner Ajit Pai, asked whether the FCC had acted on a request by the American Cable Association for a declaratory ruling that programming buying groups -- specifically the National Cable Television Cooperative -- qualify for program-access protections. Walden knew the answer, since it was one of a series of questions illustrating FCC inaction on various proposals.

Pai pointed out that even though the FCC had voted in 2012 to tentatively grant that status, not final order had been voted. The ACA had called on the FCC to act before it voted on redefining some over-the-top providers.

Later in the hearing, Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) pointed out that small rural broadband providers had issues with the FCC's decision to redefine high-speed broadband as 25 Mbps, saying it was unfair to rural operators.

At the ACA's Washington summit, its members pointed out that the redefinition could discourage buildouts and did not give them credit for the service they had invested in that might not quite hit that speed mark.

Pai pointed out that rural providers had said Title II would also undermine their business model, raise costs and could hurt deployment.

Wheeler warned against broad generalizations about smaller ISPs and countered that he had heard from NTCA: The Rural Broadband Association that Title II would not discourage investment.