Broadband, Broadband, Broadband – Keep On, Keeping On

“It’s always the same story, but this time to the nth degree”, said ACA president and CEO, Matt Polka. Speaking at the conclusion of the 2016 Independent Show, Polka explained how the regulatory environment has been particularly challenging this year as the FCC’s has been advancing new and changing regulations in a number of areas such as the set-top box, broadband privacy, Business Data Services and Open Internet. And these rules are not just from one regulatory agency, as one operator at TIS expressed concern about the potential impact of the May 2016 changes in overtime rules for the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Polka pointed out that the uncertainty of impending regulations can be a distraction for operators and cause them to shift resources away from building out and improving their broadband networks. And ACA members are resource constrained, as approximately half of them serve fewer than 1,000 customers, with only 10 or fewer employees (see examples below). In some cases, the regulations could be so high – ACA estimates $1M costs per headend for the set-top mandate – that the ACA predicts that “more than 200 small providers would either go out of business or cease offering video service.”

Regarding video, Polka emphasized the challenges smaller operators face in creating skinny and lifeline channel packages that appeal to rural customers whose discretionary income is lower than those in urban areas. He alludes to the efforts of operators to help their customers access video programming via broadband to effectively lower the end-prices, but those solutions are limited in that they can’t address mandates, such as retransmission consent, and the bundling of channels by networks.

Polka encouraged his members to, “keep on keeping on,” in their efforts to expand and enhance their broadband networks. Polka asserted that the ACA will continue to make sure that Washington hears the message that the small operators are “a vital link of communications in their communities.”

Rural Areas Tucked Away in Plain Sight

Vermont as a Brand

TIS16 coverage brought to you by the The Independent Show and ViodiTV.


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