By: Ernesto Mendieta
The Enhanced Transparency Rule, adopted by the 2015 Open Internet Order, became effective for all broadband providers on January 17, 2017. No exemption for small providers is currently in place.
The Transparency Rule, originally adopted in the 2010 Open Internet Order, required providers to disclose accurate information on network management practices, performance characteristics and commercial terms of service, with the purpose of “giving enough information for consumers to make an informed decision.” However, the 2015 Enhanced Transparency Rule added “enhancements” requiring that some information must always be disclosed.
For example, broadband providers must always disclose promotional rates, all fess and/or surcharges, and all data caps or data allowances; they must add packet loss as a measure of network performance in addition to speed and latency; and they must give specific, direct notification to consumers that a network practice is likely to significantly affect their use of the service.
Providers that violate the Transparency Rule may now be subject to enforcement action by the FCC.
Some changes may occur in the near future. On January 10, 2017, the House passed a bill that would exempt ISPs with fewer than 250,000 subscribers from the transparency requirements, although action by the Senate is still pending. Likewise, Republican FCC commissioners have stated that they will seek to revisit the requirements as soon as possible. We will continue to monitor any developments.