Minus Baker, FCC Votes On Internet Outage Reporting Rules
Outgoing GOP commissioner Meredith Baker wasn't on hand Thursday as the Federal Communications Commission proposed new rules requiring Internet companies to report serious service outages.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said Baker would not be considering agenda items after she announced Wednesday that she would be leaving to join NBCUniversal as a lobbyist.
Minus Baker, the commission voted to require Internet companies to abide by reporting rules that have been imposed on traditional phone companies.
For years the FCC has required phone companies to report when natural disasters or equipment failure shuts down phone service. But with more and more people relying on Internet connections for phone service, the FCC wants more information about serious outages.
"Broadband technologies delivering communication services are fast becoming substitutes for communications services provided by older, legacy communications technology," the FCC said in a statement.
Because broadband networks carry a substantial portion of 911 emergency call traffic, outage reporting is a public safety issue, said Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell.
"All Americans rightly expect their emergency calls to go through," he said.
In filings at the FCC, Internet providers argued that the reporting rules won't work for Internet services. Unlike traditional telephone networks, Internet services don't run through centralized points, making it difficult to tell where a problem originated.
"Given the significant differences between voice and broadband networks, the existing outage reporting model is a poor fit for broadband networks," Verizon argued.
The FCC also voted to give U.S. phone companies more flexibility in negotiating international agreements.