ESA is at the forefront of presenting industry positions to the FCC, which regulates telecommunications throughout the United States and to key House and Senate members and staffs that have direct responsibility to prepare legislation and influence communications policies. Through ESA’s leadership, the FCC and Congress are important targets for industry positions to be presented by the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC), which was created by the industry years ago to fight AT&T and the telephone company’s interest at the time in offering alarm and monitoring services to the public. AICC, together with ESA (then NBFAA) lobbied Congress and made a major impact both from an FCC regulatory legal aspect as well as a legislative initiative to protect the future operations of industry business. Now, decades later, the telecommunications industry is changing everything as it relates to POTS, wireless communications, integrated systems, home automation— issues being addressed each day in Washington, DC.
ESA has been active in reaching out to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee which has jurisdiction over the FCC and telecommunications policy. Public hearings have been held on issues such as battery backup in a crisis setting for consumers, how best to implement the President’s broadband technology support and what new technologies might be anticipated in the future. While final legislation that will impact ESA members and the industry is still being developed, Congress will begin to consider legislative changes to a 30-year-old telecommunications bill in order to bring various statutes up-to-date on new technologies.
This is where ESA and you should be ready to contact your elected federal official when the request comes early in the 2016 election year. ESA leadership will visit Capitol Hill during the December 2-4 AICC meetings in support of industry positions to protect businesses, and provide for consumer protection in transitioning to a “new technology” world. Major lobbying by ESA and industry officials took place during ESA’s Day on Capitol Hill last May and individual ESA chapters and members have been meeting with their federal officials in an ongoing effort to update them on our priorities. ESA has also taken the lead to present our views before the FCC, in coordination with AICC in written comments and in visits to key Administration decision-makers.
The FCC has released rulemaking positions addressing many issues that affect ESA members, including informing consumers of backup power requirements during a power outage, the impact of telephone companies’ discontinuance of traditional POTS service and retirements for replacement of copper facilities, as well as the technology reliability in the transition to IP-based services. ESA has maintained before Congress and the FCC that new technologies must perform to the same level as existing communications and be proven in real world field conditions. This is especially true for the reliability of VoIP technology, especially where lives and property are at stake. ESA has, in meetings with FCC officials, asked them to require more extensive testing and validation by manufacturers and ISPs for any technology that seeks to impact the communications used by electronic life safety, monitoring and security companies (See ESA comments to the FCC, Feb. 3,2015).
Get ready to support the industry and ESA in a telecommunications fight to protect the industry. Get to know your elected officials and their staffs in the House and Senate and contact ESA if you have questions on who your elected officials are, whether they have an impact on communications policy, how best to visit or let them know how you support the industry and who to contact within their office. November 2016 is a national election that will determine not only control of Congress but of the White House as well. It is an excellent time to impress your interests upon federal officials seeking your vote and that of your family, friends, employees and customers. Support ESA, AICC and the industry in our efforts going forward in a rapidly changing telecommunications business environment.