Today, the FCC adopted an order relieving broadband providers with 250,000 or fewer connections from the enhanced transparency requirements introduced in the 2015 Open Internet Order. Compared to the prior Administration’s exemption that expired in December, the new exemption applies to a larger number of providers (those with up to 250,000 connections instead of 100,000) and for a longer period of time – five years, until 2022. The broader scope of relief was in line with a recent bipartisan bill adopted by the House that would have applied this exemption legislatively.
This exemption only applies to the “enhanced” requirements adopted in the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order, which we have previously described. Those requirements include more detailed disclosures regarding network practices, prices and promotional rates, data caps and allowances, packet loss, and data on regional speed variations. The baseline transparency requirements adopted in the earlier 2010 Open Internet Order still apply to all broadband Internet access providers. Thus, even after today’s action, all broadband providers are required to disclose certain baseline information regarding their broadband Internet access service offerings, consistent with the FCC’s 2010 order.