The Federal Communications Commission may not require some Internet service providers to comply with parts of the commission's net neutrality order, which are onerous for smaller cable operators and municipal broadband providers, according to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.
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The rules, implemented in 2015, require ISPs to make public disclosures about the rates, fees, and data caps that apply to their customers. The disclosure requirement temporarily exempted ISPs with fewer than 100,000 subscribers, an exemption Pai wants to extend for the next five years and broaden to include ISPs with up to 250,000 subscribers, Ars Technica reports.
Pai's proposal, which is subject to a vote from the full commission, is a small step towards what many net neutrality advocates fear is a complete abandonment of the net neutrality order. The chairman said the extension of the exemption, which expired in mid-December, would reassure small ISPs who face competitive markets.
"That lapse left thousands of our nation's smallest and most competitive Internet service providers—mom-and-pop wireless Internet service providers (WISPs), small cable operators, municipal broadband providers, electric cooperatives, rural telephone companies, and others—worried that they would be subject to unnecessary, onerous, and ill-defined reporting obligations," Pai said in a statement last week.
Pai is a critic of net neutrality, but he said this week that the FCC has made no immediate determination on whether or not to repeal it. The commission will, however, abandon its plan to require cable companies to unlock their set-top boxes, with Recode reporting that the proposal has been removed from the FCC's agenda as of last week.
Unlocking set-top boxes would allow third parties to install video-streaming apps on them, effectively letting customers use their cable company's equipment to access more content. Cable companies lobbied against the proposal, which they labeled as outdated in an era when more content is moving online and away from traditional set-top boxes.