Enhanced Transparency Rule Effective January 17, 2017, Unlikely to Be Enforced Against Small Business Providers

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The FCC’s enhanced Transparency Rule, which was adopted in the 2015 Open Internet (Net Neutrality) Order and covers both content and format of disclosures by broadband Internet access service providers, is slated to take effect for all broadband providers on January 17, 2017.  The FCC’s small business temporary exemption (for providers with 100,000 or fewer broadband connections) from the enhanced requirements lapsed as of December 16, 2016, and the commissioners were unable to reach a consensus agreement either to extend the exemption or make it permanent.  However, Commissioners O’Rielly and Pai released a letter to several carrier trade groups indicating that they “would not support any adverse actions against small business providers for supposed non-compliance with the ‘enhanced transparency’ rules” after the January 17, 2017 effective date and plan to revisit the those requirements and the Net Neutrality proceeding more broadly as soon as possible.  With Chairman Wheeler stepping down on January 20, 2017, Commissioners O’Rielly and Pai will comprise a Republican majority at the FCC.

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