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.

 

Cheryl Johns

Assistant Chief Counsel for Telecom

 

2 Comments
  1. Steve Adams says

    The debacle over regulating lead paint in toys should be instructive to policymakers looking at similar issues. See Wall Street Journal letter at http://www.sjadams.net/toy_letter_wsj.php.

  2. Bob Mont says

    Anything that can be done to simplify and reduce the burden of over regulation for small business people would be a great step forward in unleashing the power and ingenuity of entreprenuers. I’m an attorney (hope you won’t hold that against me) and I work with a lot of small business people. Many are absolutely overwhelmed with layer after layer of regulation that they have to wade through in order to start and operate a business. One of the problems is that the regulators have full time people to lobby the legislatures of the states to enact even more regulations while the business people are out trying to run a business and make a living. They simply don’t have the time or manpower to compete with the regulators so the regulations continue to pile up. Some regulation is obviously necessary and important but there needs to be a balance. In my opinion, the US is top heavy and overloaded with business regulations.

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