Cable companies protest FCC request

The cable industry is opposing a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) effort to collect information that businesses say would cost them millions of dollars.

Trade groups have called for the agency to roll back the requirements on collecting information about dedicated Internet service for businesses, hospitals and other institutions, since they could affect hundreds of companies and cost some more than $1.5 million.

Both the American Cable Association (ACA) and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) filed complaints with the White House’s Office of Management and Budget on Wednesday to halt the FCC’s collection. The budget office is reviewing the FCC’s data request and needs to approve it before it would take effect.

The FCC’s planned information collection “is a massive exercise in paperwork creation that will impose substantial new burdens on thousands of companies,” the NCTA wrote in its complaint.

Under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), agencies like the FCC are required to limit their requests to collect data so that they don’t overly burden businesses or other institutions.

“Evidence gathered from our members demonstrates that the proposed data collection is not compliant with the PRA, especially the directive to minimize the paperwork burden for smaller entities,” ACA president Matthew Polka said in a statement on Thursday. “It needs to be extensively revised before it is issued.”

Companies identified by the trade group said that the FCC’s proposed data collection regime would force them to spend time and money to create the information, which they don't already have on hand.

One point of contention was a type of file the FCC wanted. The commission asked companies to submit fiber map data in a format known as Shapefile, but the trade groups said that most companies don’t keep their maps in that format.

“Thus, it would cost cable operators many millions of dollars to comply,” Polka said.