GOP lawmakers call on FCC chair to soften data services proposal

GOP lawmakers call on FCC chair to soften data services proposal
© Greg Nash

A trio of Republican lawmakers are asking Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to soften his proposal to deregulate the business data services market.

Members of the Arkansas delegation — Sens. Tom CottonTom CottonMcCarthy: ‘No deadline on DACA’ DHS chief takes heat over Trump furor Lawmakers see shutdown’s odds rising MORE and John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanThe Hill's Whip List: Where Republicans stand on Senate tax bill Lobbying World The Hill's Whip List: Republicans try again on ObamaCare repeal MORE and Rep. French Hill — wrote a letter to Pai asking that he implement a “reasonable transition period” in the proposed rule so that small businesses can prepare for any price hikes that may result.

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“A transition period would create a window where all market participants could plan for price increases or the purchase of internet protocol (IP)-enabled equipment, shop for alternative service arrangements, and even solicit build-out proposals from potential market entrants,” the lawmakers wrote. 

“A reasonable transition would also enable service providers to adapt and remain viable in more markets than will occur in the event of a flash cut to new policies.”

Last month, Pai proposed deregulating the business data services market — which allow companies to securely transmit large amounts of data. The FCC has set price caps in many areas in an effort to promote competition, but Pai argues that removing the regulations will allow the market to flourish.

His proposal has drawn criticism from certain business groups, including the Small Business Administration’s Advocacy Office, an independent wing of the agency that wrote to Pai last week asking him to hold off on going forward with the proposal, which is set for a vote on Thursday.

The Arkansas Republicans’ applauded Pai’s deregulation efforts but implied that moving too fast on the proposal could make the services more expensive.

“A transition period would allow additional time for these changes to play out and allow providers time to adjust their business models and educate consumers about the coming changes, including the possibility of price hikes, termination of service, and migration to alternate technologies,” they wrote.