The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday stayed close to its philosophical roots and voted unanimously to stop using Form 325, its annual collection of cable operator data such as network structure, programming, number of subscribers and system-wide capacity for all systems that supported more than 20,000 subscribers.
"Because of marketplace, operational, and technological changes that have occurred over time, the Report and Order finds that the form has become increasingly obsolete," the FCC said. "By eliminating the Form 325 filing requirement, the Commission has lifted a significant regulatory burden imposed on cable operators and ensured that its rules reflect current marketplace realities."
Given that the FCC did not use much (if any) data collected via this paperwork, in November 2017 the agency voted unanimously to seek comment from the public, cable operators and other industry stakeholders regarding the form's future. The data collection paperwork was first developed in 1966; the last time the FCC changed it was almost two decades ago, according to the FCC.
"Additionally, the Commission has made limited use of Form 325 data in recent years, and much of the same information is available from alternative sources," the federal agency said.
Getting rid of this onerous documentation liberates cable operators, especially as the information gathered is available from "other authoritative sources," wrote FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Removing bureaucracy is in line with Pai's stated goals: To simplify doing business with the government using more of an agile, corporate approach.
This step is one of many data-collection procedures government is fond of doing -- for no apparent reason. And more busywork forms will follow the same fate, the commissioners cautioned.
Added Michael O'Reilly in a separate statement: "...This item is part of a series of proceedings to help modernize existing Commission regulations imposed on broadcast and cable companies. It is both appropriate and exciting to see this one completed, and I hope we can quickly move to the eight or so other items that have already been briefed and should be ready to go to final action. Concurrently, we should turn our attention to finding the next dozen, and the next dozen, and the dozen after that of unnecessary rules and reporting requirements that can be eliminated."
ACA urges the Commission to eliminate Form 325, as it no longer serves the purpose for which it was originally intended, and because it creates an unnecessary burden for cable operators, especially small operators with limited resources.
But some wondered why the FCC did not use the data, instead of tanking the form -- especially as they said it's the sole form of collected data sworn to by operators.
While commissioners were unanimous, the same sentiments did not apply to everyone outside the halls of government.
Public Knowledge, a 501(c)(3) organization that "promotes freedom of expression, an open Internet, and access to affordable communications tools and creative works," and works to shape policy on behalf of the "public interest filed comments about Form 325.
Primarily, Public Knowledge said, Form 325 collects data that is unavailable elsewhere: "Most importantly, all providers filing Form 325 must certify that the information is accurate under penalty of perjury. This makes the information collected via Form 325 far more reliable than any other source," wrote Public Knowledge Attorneys Harold Feld and Adrian Attar in February 2018.
"To paraphrase Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the fault is not in the Form 325, but in the FCC, that it fails to utilize the data collected to fulfill its statutory obligations," the attorneys wrote. "Rather than eliminate Form 325, the Commission should instead focus on how best to utilize this important and detailed data set that should be informing the Commission’s decisions, and reported out on a regular basis to Congress and the general public."
More than a half-million Irish residents expected to have fiber broadband by 2020. But Ireland's National Broadband Plan has not even begun — and government officials today postponed any agreement again.
In a new report and searchable database, Broadband Now discovered fiber is the is the least expensive technology powering subscribers' connections. But the poorest, most rural residents pay the most for connectivity, regardless of underlying infrastructure.
As Vice President of Global Healthcare at AT&T, Maria Lensing oversees the telecommunications operator's technology and professional services offerings across the spectrum of medical providers, from solo practitioners and walk-in clinics to giant hospital chains, medical-device vendors and consulting firms. Lensing also sees more interest from traditional service providers -- cable and telecom operators looking to expand or build relationships with their own medical communities, perhaps as an adjunct to smart-home successes or standalone.
Lensing, who took on this role almost a year ago in May 2018, oversees both the sales and technical teams responsible for developing growth initiatives for AT&T's Global Healthcare business -- including products, services and industry-specific solutions. She also very actively promotes business minority inclusion, education and female empowerment programs and has been recognized both within and outside AT&T. Some awards she's received include "Top 40 Under 40" and "Super Woman in Business" from the Memphis Business Journal.
Join Maria Lensing, VP of Global Healthcare at AT&T, on Tuesday, April 23 at 12:00 p.m. ET / 9:00 p.m. PT, when she's the guest on BBWN Radio, hosted by Broadband World News Editor Alison Diana. Register now!
So far, the agenda includes a discussion of technologies such as fiber and 5G; defining the needs and solutions for a widely diverse range of customers; partnering for success in a typically slow-moving, budget-constrained market; learning and dispersing best practices from other verticals and within other business groups; promoting diversity and female empowerment when so many say they're doing so but so little has changed; and what she hopes to accomplish in another year in this role.
Register and post your questions for Maria on BBWN Radio's easy-to-use chat board. We will get to as many questions as possible. Please post questions before and during the broadcast. Once you've registered, you will be led to the chat board page. Talk to you on April 23!
Tune in to Broadband World News Radio on February 14 at 11 a.m. ET / 8 a.m. PT / 4 p.m. UK when John Isch, Practice Director of the Network and Voice Center of Excellence at Orange Business Services, discusses use cases, ROI and misconceptions of software-defined wide-area networks, virtualization and cloud.
Just when you thought the answer to your next technology direction question was clear, the noise around multiple new technology options fills the Internet and airwaves. Multiple 5Gs are being deployed; there's CableLabs' 10G initiative; the ITU and IEEE are toiling around 50G PON – and we haven’t even talked about Wi-Fi6 yet! Is any of this real, do you have to pay attention or can you just let the dust settle and then decide?
Since waiting is often not the best option, let’s demystify technology options, their impact on your business, and how to prepare for whatever the future brings.
In this webinar, Service Providers will learn:
Current state of 5G and how it affects everyone, not only mobile network providers.
Latest technologies being developed and how they will benefit their networks and subscribers.
How to prepare their networks for the future – whatever it may hold.