“Robocalls” From Energy Utilities

Last week, the FCC released a Declaratory Ruling granting a petition by the Edison Electric Institute and American Gas Association regarding the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) . The ruling confirms that energy utilities may place “robocalls” (calls and texts placed with an autodialer or a prerecorded or artificial voice) regarding matters “closely related to the utility service” to numbers that have been provided by their customers. The ruling extends to calls concerning service outages, service restoration, meter work, tree trimming and other field work, threatened service curtailment, and potential brown-outs due to heavy energy use. Callers must still comply with other TCPA requirements, including opt-out requirements and ceasing robocalls to numbers that have been reassigned to new subscribers. For a detailed summary of the Declaratory Ruling available on the Keller and Heckman LLP website, click here.

$200,000 Fine for Wi-Fi Routers

The FCC announced last week that TP-Link will pay a $200,000 fine and enter into a compliance plan for selling Wi-Fi routers capable of operating at higher power levels that those approved by the Commission. The Commission stated that Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) Wi-Fi equipment operating in the 5 GHz band must refrain from offering user configurable options that cause operation in violation of the FCC’s rules. During its investigation, the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) determined that TP-Link’s software installed on its router permitted the user to change the country code for the router, enabling it to operate at higher power than allowed on 5 GHz channels.

Submarine Cable Outage Rules

Last week the FCC adopted Final Rules requiring submarine cable licensees to report service outages (defined as a failure or significant degradation in the performance of a licensee’s cable service regardless of whether traffic can be re-routed) to the FCC through the Network Outage Reporting System (“NORS”). The FCC also directed the International Bureau to develop and improve interagency coordination processes and best practices for submarine cable deployment activities and permitting.

Hearing Aid Compatibility Rules

The FCC issued a Report and Order on Friday that amended its hearing aid compatibility (HAC) rules for wireless handsets by increasing the number of HAC handsets that service providers and manufacturers are required to offer: 66 percent of offered handsets must be compliant following a two-year transition period for manufacturers, and 85 percent of offered handsets must be compliant following a five-year transition period. Additional compliance time will be allotted for service providers.

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