“We are small businesses that matter and that make a difference in our communities,” is the message that Matt Polka and the American Cable Association members imparted to elected members on Capitol Hill at the 23rd ACA Summit. In the above interview, Polka implores Congress and regulators to work with and not against the small operators that serve parts of rural America that would otherwise be unserved or underserved.
Polka emphasizes that regulatory policies need to account for operator size, as smaller operators do not have the staff or subscriber base to absorb the costs of regulations in the same way that a larger company can. He points out that 80% of ACA’s 750 members have fewer than 5,000 customers and that regulations represent an opportunity cost that can impede the rollout of advanced broadband services.
Proving that broadband is an opportunity for bipartisanship, Polka cites the approval of H.R. 4596 by the House Energy and Commerce committee. This bill reduces the burden of Title II transparency requirements on small operators. Further evidence that broadband cuts across party lines is given by the formation last month of the Congressional Rural Broadband Caucus which aims “to facilitate discussion, educate Members of Congress and develop policy solutions to close the digital divide in rural America.”
Polka points out that, despite different party affiliations, both Representatives Doyle (D-PA) and Pompeo (R-KS), who spoke during the morning sessions, shared a view that regulatory reasonableness is necessary. Pompeo spoke of several piecemeal reform initiatives making their way through Congress, including:
- codifying Chairman Wheeler’s statement that the FCC will not regulate broadband pricing and
- reform spearheaded by Representative Walden (R-OR) to ensure more transparency and notice regarding new FCC regulations.
Referencing the controversy surrounding the Apple/FBI device issue, Pompeo called national cybersecurity issues complicated and believes that Congress will have to step in to provide clarity. To that point, he asked for help from the ACA members, when he stated that, “The most important thing is that you know more than I do regarding security.”
His comments are illustrative of the importance of continued dialogue between operators and their representatives in Washington. Stay tuned for more coverage from this event.
ACA Summit coverage brought to you by the ACA and ViodiTV.