- On April 11, 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the filing of a much-anticipated antitrust lawsuit (see March 12 edition of This Week in Telecom) against Apple, Inc. and five publishers alleging that they conspired to fix the price of e-books. DOJ simultaneously announced that it had reached a proposed settlement agreement with three of the publishers, Hachette Book Group (USA), HarperCollins Publishers LLC and Simon & Schuster, Inc., that would invalidate their existing sales agreements for e-books with Apple and certain other e-book retailers and bar them “for five years from again conspiring with or sharing competitively sensitive information with their competitors.” The settlement agreement would impose reporting requirements designed to empower DOJ to ensure that the companies are complying with the mandates of the settlement agreement. Federal law requires that the proposed settlement be published and that DOJ receive public comment for a period of 60 days before the settlement can be accepted by the court. The two publishers named in the complaint that have not reached settlements are Holzbrinck Publishers LLC d/b/a Macmillan and Penguin Group (USA). More information, including the complaint and proposed settlement, are available here.
- AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon have agreed to deploy databases designed to reduce the growing number of thefts of wireless smartphones and tablets. Under the plan announced last week, a database will prevent stolen devices from being activated on the networks of other carriers. The database will maintain a list of international mobile equipment identifiers (IMEIs) associated with stolen devices. AT&T and T-Mobile anticipate having their databases deployed by October 31, 2012, while Verizon and Sprint are expected to deploy by November 30, 2013. The carriers will also undertake a public education campaign this summer, including public service announcements and online tools, to improve consumers’ knowledge about how to lock and secure devices electronically and how to remotely wipe sensitive data from stolen devices. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski threatened that the Commission could open proceedings if the carriers do not follow through on their promises. The Chairman’s remarks about this so-called PROTECT Initiative are available here.
- The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has opened a proceeding to consider whether Canada should begin to regulate retail wireless services. As has the United States, the CRTC previously declined to impose regulations on the wireless market, believing that there was sufficient competition to impose constraints on wireless carriers. But according to the Notice of Consultation released April 4, 2012, “the Commission is seeking comments on whether the conditions for forbearance have changed sufficiently to warrant Commission intervention in the development of a national retail wireless services consumer code.” Interested parties must intervene by May 3, 2012, and Reply Comments must be filed by May 14, 2012. The Commission expects to issue a ruling about four months later. The Notice of Consultation is available here.
- The FCC seeks comment on the impact of a public safety network on Commercial Mobile Radio Service by April 30, 2012, with Reply Comments due May 30, 2012. The call for comments was issued in response to a decision to suspend service in San Francisco’s subway system last August. The Public Notice asks for comment on several topics, including: past practices and precedents; bases for interrupting wireless service; risks in interrupting mobile communications; scope of interruption; authority to interrupt service; and the legal constraints on service disruption. The notice is available here.
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