Benton Responds to Latest Tech Transitions Actions by FCC

On August 6, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission adopted new rules aimed at protecting consumers through the transitions from legacy copper networks. The following may be attributed to Benton Foundation Policy Director Amina Fazlullah:

The Benton Foundation salutes the FCC’s progress on protecting consumers as the networks they have relied upon for phone service have transitioned from traditional copper to fiber broadband. And we are pleased the FCC is moving forward to clarify reporting requirements. Giving consumers notice and information about network transitions helps consumers prepare for the change in service. We are also pleased that the FCC has opened up a FNPRM on the issue of functionality and metrics to assess changes or losses in functionality.

But we are concerned about the FCC's approach to battery backup. Merely providing consumers information and an option to purchase a battery is a significant shift in burden. In the past, consumers have never had to think about maintaining a backup system and now both the cost and the maintenance have been shifted to the individual consumer. For vulnerable populations – especially seniors and low income households -- the cost of battery backup may be out of reach, putting these households in danger of losing access to emergency responders during a power outage. We urge the FCC to develop a stronger, consumer-focused approach to the issue of battery backup.