The week of February 9 has been a busy one for the alarm industry in responding to the FCC’s announcements regarding net neutrality.
AICC Chair (and CSAA Executive Director) Lou Fiore, along with AICC lobbyist Bill Signer, CSAA counsel Ben Dickens, and CSAA counsel Mary Sisak, visited the offices of more than a dozen Members of Congress to raise awareness of the concerns the alarm industry on this topic.
AICC’s message to legislators is that alarm industry companies welcome competition on a level playing field, but is concerned that when broadband and wireless providers offer the same alarm and video monitoring services, fair competition will not exist without some safeguards.
Fiore explains, “As broadband and wireless providers enter the business, we are concerned that they could use their control of the network to gain an unfair competitive advantage. If these companies do so, our customers will be at risk — and small companies, such as those that make up more than 60% of our industry, could be driven out of business.”
In 1996, recognizing that the alarm industry would be vulnerable to anti-competitive practices by a service provider engaged in alarm monitoring, Congress enacted Section 275 as part of the Telecommunication Act. Section 275 requires a carrier engaged in alarm monitoring to:
- provide alarm companies with the same services they provide their affiliates on a nondiscriminatory basis
- not engage in cross subsidization
- not use alarm company customer data to market their own alarm services
Section 275 also provides for an expedited complaint process at the FCC, an issue critical for small businesses.
The AICC is asking legislators to include these safeguards in any discussion of net neutrality or Telecommunications Act rewrite.
Fiore explained that AICC’s message to legislators is that of an industry, comprised mainly of small businesses, that is crucial to public safety. “Alarm companies are critical to ensuring that emergency services are deployed promptly and appropriately,” he said.
Much more on this issue in the coming weeks.
–Elizabeth Lasko, CSAA staff, 2/12/15