Advocacy Field Trip Gives a Glimpse of Sophisticated Mom-And-Pop Cable Shop
One of the most technically complex issue-areas in the Office of Advocacy’s workload is telecommunications. We regularly advocate on behalf of small telecom companies before the Federal Communications Commission and Congress. Understanding the different needs of small telecom providers in the U.S. market has always been a challenge, given their diversity and the highly technical nature of the field. For example, what works for a small wireless carrier in terms of regulation and federal policies may in effect be adverse for small cable company or a rural ILEC (an incumbent local exchange carrier or local telephone company).
Advocacy is in constant communication with different telecom industry representatives and the FCC to analyze how specific regulations affect their business models. Over the years, we have worked closely with the American Cable Association, the trade organization that represents the needs of small and medium-size independently owned cable companies. ACA has been instrumental in helping our office to better understand the challenges that small cable companies face in the provision of telecom services. In May, we decided to expand Advocacy’s “cable education” a bit further.
As a part of our “cable education” we wanted to see firsthand how a small cable company’s headend differs from other carriers’ central offices. So, on May 18th, in honor of National Small Business Week, a few members of our office, including Acting Chief Counsel Shawne McGibbon, visited the Metrocast cable system. Metrocast is part of a family-owned cable company that primarily provides service in parts of Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Metrocast is one of the small cable providers that has deployed advanced voice, video, and broadband networks throughout rural America.
Joined by representatives from ACA, our group toured Metrocast’s local headend, the brick building that houses the sophisticated array of equipment needed to supply local subscribers with hundreds of video channels, high-quality digital phone service, and broadband Internet access. Even more impressive than the network itself was this small business’s level of customer service and community involvement. Listening to stories about Metrocast’s customers and the company’s community-oriented projects made it easy for our group to realize the value and importance of small firms. Companies like Metrocast, that have worked to connect rural America, will be essential in helping us to complete our national broadband strategy. We need more small businesses to push innovation, to create jobs, and to care about their local communities. Thanks to ACA and Metrocast for their hard work at making this happen.
Assistant Chief Counsel for Telecom