WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 13, 2017 - Today, the leaders of 11 organizations representing more than 1,000 small communications providers announced their support for quick passage of a bipartisan House bill that would establish procedures to provide opportunities for regulatory relief for smaller providers in a more predictable and streamlined manner.
The signatories endorsed H.R. 3787, the Small Entity Regulatory Relief Opportunity (SERRO) Act in a letter to Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and that panel's Ranking Member, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.). Introduced in September, the SERRO Act is co-sponsored by Rep. Bob Latta (R-Oh.) and Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), both of whom serve on the Energy and Commerce panel.
The groups' letter not only highlighted the importance of the SERRO Act's key provisions but also recommended that it be included in pending legislation intended to reauthorize the Federal Communications Commission. The groups backing passage of the SERRO Act comprise a broad range of interests that often have competing policy outlooks, including independent TV broadcasters, cable operators, traditional telephone companies, competitive telcos, mobile carriers, fixed wireless Internet service providers, and rural utilities.
The SERRO Act would require the FCC to establish a more streamlined process for small entities to obtain regulatory relief through case-by-case waiver requests. It would direct the FCC to conduct a triennial review of all existing regulations to determine whether there is good cause to modify any specific obligations imposed on small entities. Lastly, the bill would defer the imposition of new regulatory burdens on small entities for one year after the regulations apply to large entities (except in certain circumstances as set forth in the bill).
The SERRO Act wasn't introduced for the purpose of providing relief from any specific existing or forthcoming rule, or in response to how the current FCC Chairman or past FCC Chairmen have regulated small entities. It is designed to institutionalize some of the FCC's best practices from both Democrat and Republican administrations to ensure there's a lasting procedural framework for smaller entities to cost effectively obtain relief when appropriate.
The letter was signed by the following groups: American Cable Association, Competitive Carriers Association, Fiber Broadband Association, INCOMPAS, ITTA, LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition, NRECA-America's Electric Cooperatives, NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association, Rural Wireless Association, Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), and WTA-Advocates for Rural Broadband.
The text of the SERRO Act can be found here.
Matthew M. Polka, President & CEO, American Cable Association:
"ACA supports the SERRO Act as a timely and carefully crafted approach to ensuring that small communications providers with some of the most challenging economics are not burdened when seeking regulatory relief from the Federal Communications Commission. By passing the SERRO Act, Congress will be declaring that the Commission must have additional procedures in place to ensure that small entities are not needlessly burdened by its rules and regulations."
Chip Pickering, CEO, INCOMPAS:
"INCOMPAS' small business members are building the broadband networks of the future to their communities. We appreciate the leadership of Congressmen Latta and Schrader in recognizing that these companies should focus on building and serving their customers by giving them some additional time to adjust to new regulations."
Genevieve Morelli, President, ITTA:
"ITTA endorses inclusion of the SERRO Act in the FCC Reauthorization Act. As policymakers continue to work with industry to find solutions to close the rural broadband gap, the SERRO Act represents a real opportunity for Congress to demonstrate its commitment to rural broadband and the providers that serve rural consumers."
Mike Gravino, Director, LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition:
"For years now the 1000s of small indie LPTV broadcasters have been knocked around by rule changes from the FCC based on the party in power. We are hoping the SERRO legislation will provide a buffer from these fierce political changes, and give our business, civic, and noncom TV licensees time to adjust to new rules which affect our investments on behalf of our communities and viewers."
Jim Matheson, CEO, NRECA-America's Electric Cooperatives
"Burdensome regulations often have a negative impact on American small businesses, including electric cooperatives that are investing in rural broadband deployment. We commend Reps. Latta and Schrader for their leadership of the SERRO Act, and we look forward to working with them and other stakeholders to streamline procedures and reduce the impact of regulations facing small telecom entities."
Shirley Bloomfield, Chief Executive Officer, NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association:
"The recognition of and focus on small business regulatory challenges by Reps. Latta and Schrader is greatly appreciated by NTCA and its membership. Advancing this bipartisan legislation will enable smaller ISPs to remain focused on providing high-quality broadband service to their customers rather than dealing with onerous regulations."
Caressa D. Bennet, General Counsel, Rural Wireless Association, Inc.:
"RWA members provide wireless broadband service in some of the most remote and rural places in the country - and do so with limited resources. The SERRO Act will help to ensure that those limited resources are focused on expanding and maintaining rural broadband service critical to economic development, healthcare, and education - and not on expensive and time-consuming regulatory requirements."
Chuck Hogg, Chairman, Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA):
"WISPA supports these commonsense provisions to ensure that the WISPs and other small businesses who are investing, private, at-risk capital to bridge the digital divide can focus on delivering service to our communities instead of lawyers and consultants."
Kelley Worthington, Executive Vice President, WTA-Advocates for Rural Broadband:
"Complying with outdated or unnecessary regulations costs small broadband providers time and valuable resources that could be better used building robust networks. We appreciate Representatives Latta and Schrader drawing attention to this issue and believe their proposal will help reduce the regulatory burden placed on small providers."