Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Announcements

  • On September 12, 2013, the FCC’s Accessibility & Innovation Initiative will host Dr. Yevgen Borodin, a Research Assistant Professor at Stony Brook University, for his presentation called “Improving Accessibility for the General Public.” The event will be from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm Eastern at FCC Headquarters. The public is welcome, RSVP toaiispeaker@fcc.gov. It will also be webcast. To read more, click here.
  • The next two FCC Open Meetings are scheduled for September 26 and October 22, 2013.

Please contact Ross BuntrockJon CanisAlan FishelMichael HazzardStephanie Joyce, orJeffrey Rummel (contact information below) for further information.

The Mobile Market

  • The FCC last week announced that it and Industry Canada, the agency that regulates telecommunications in Canada, have concluded three interim spectrum sharing arrangements for operations along the U.S.-Canadian border. One agreement covers fixed services in the 71-76 gigahertz, 81-86 GHz, 92-94 GHz, and 94.1-95 GHz bands, which the FCC said will support “backhaul for mobile broadband networks, high-speed wireless local area networks and broadband Internet access over high bandwidth point to point links.” Another agreement involves a statement of intent for the 454.6625-454.9875 megahertz and 459.6625-459.9875 MHz bands. This spectrum is used for aviation air-ground services. The third agreement is for the 896-901 MHz and 935-940 MHz bands and is focused on coordinating secondary users on this spectrum near the border. The Commission’s press release announcing these interim agreements is available here.
  • On August 22, 2013, Acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn released a statement reinforcing her supporting for measures that would allow consumers to lawfully unlock their mobile phones so that they could be used on another carrier’s network. She called on interested parties to continue to engage in discussions with the goal of finding a voluntary industry solution and indicated that she has directed the Commission’s staff to continue efforts to reach a compromise. Her statement is available here.
  • On July 23, 2013, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking input on proposals to allow commercial use of spectrum in the 1695-1710 MHz, 1755-1780 MHz, 2020-2025 MHz, and 2155-2180 MHz bands. The Commission’s “goal remains to clear and allocate spectrum in these bands for exclusive commercial use to the maximum extent feasible,” and it will explore “novel approaches to spectrum sharing between commercial and Federal operators.” Comments are due September 19, 2013, and Reply Comments are due October 16, 2013. The full NPRM is available here. GN Docket No. 13-85.

Please contact Ross BuntrockMichael Hazzard, or G. David Carter (contact information below) for further information.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Privacy Regulation

  • The FTC has announced that it is seeking public comment on a proposed verifiable parental consent method submitted by AssertID, Inc. for approval under the FTC’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule. Online sites and services directed at children must obtain permission from a child’s parents before collecting personal information from that child and the COPPA Rule provides for a number of methods for getting parental consent. But the COPPA Rule also includes a provision that allows interested parties to submit new verifiable parental consent methods to the FTC for approval. Under this provision, the FTC is seeking public comment about the proposed AssertID verifiable parental consent method, whether the proposed method is already covered by the existing methods included in the rule, and whether it meets the rule’s requirement that it be reasonably calculated to ensure that the person providing the consent is actually the child’s parent. The comment period will last until September 20, 2013. The text of the federal register entry is here. The text of AssertID’s proposed verifiable parental consent method is here.
  • The FTC will hold a consumer privacy workshop on November 19, 2013, in Washington, DC to address the consumer privacy and security issues raised by the growing connectivity of consumer devices such as smart phones, cars, appliances, and medical devices, also commonly referred to as “The Internet of Things”. More information regarding the “Internet of Things” workshop and comments is available here.

Please contact Ross BuntrockAlan FishelStephanie Joyce, or Stephen Thompson (contact information below) for further information.

New Markets: Smart Grid and E-Health

  • Verizon has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration 510(k) Class II clearance for a new cloud-based device that will connect health care providers with their patients at home. The product, called Converged Health Management, will begin to be marketed later this year. The system will synch with devices such as a blood glucose monitor, blood pressure cuff, pulse oximeter, and scale. Additional devices are expected to be announced soon.

Please contact Ross BuntrockStephanie JoyceDavid Carter, or Stephen Thompson (contact information below) for further information.

Developments in Intercarrier Compensation

  • On August 20, 2013, the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) issued an order scheduling a workshop for September 10, 2013, in its proceeding on the appropriate scope of regulation of telecommunications services in Iowa. The IUB is considering whether to reform existing regulations and propose statutory changes to reflect new technologies and new market conditions. Discussion topics include Voice-over-IP technology, the transition to IP networks, whether Iowa’s carrier-of-last-resort requirements are still necessary, and whether certifications and tariffs should still be required. Parties wishing to file written comments after the workshop may do so on or before September 18, 2013. Docket No. NOI-2013-0001.

Please contact Ross BuntrockJon CanisMichael HazzardStephanie Joyce, or Adam Bowser (contact information below) for further information regarding intercarrier compensation matters.

Compliance Notes

  • The FCC is seeking comment on revisions to Forms 470 and 471 which are used by applicants seeking support for funding of projects under the Schools and Libraries Universal Service Funding Mechanism, more commonly known as the E-Rate Program. Form 470 is used to open the competitive bidding process, and Form 471 is filed by the E-Rate applicant to identify the services for which it is seeking reimbursement. The proposed changes to the forms include inquiries about broadband connectivity, and the number, type and speed of current broadband connections. Reply Comments are due August 30, 2013. (CC Docket No. 02-6, DA 13-1590)

    A copy of the Public Notice can be found here.

    A copy of the proposed Form 470 can be found here, while the proposed Form 470 instructions can be found here.

    A copy of the proposed Form 471 can be found here, and the proposed Form 471 instructions can be found here.
     
  • The Wireline Competition Bureau is seeking comments on changes to FCC Forms 479, 486, and 500, all of which are used in administration of the Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support Program, commonly known as the E-Rate Program. FCC Forms 479 and 486 are used by participants in the program to certify compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) when applying for discounts on Internet access, internal connections, and basic maintenance of internal connections. Participants also use FCC Form 486 to notify the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) of when the participant first receives service. FCC Form 500 is used to make adjustment to previously filed forms. Reply Comments are due August 28, 2013.

    The Public Notice can be found here

    The proposed revised Form 479 can be found here, with the proposed revised instructions here.

    The proposed revised Form 486 can be found here, with the proposed revised Form 486 Instructions here.

    The proposed revised Form 500 can be found here, with the proposed revised Form 500 Instructions here.
     
  • Completed FCC Form 477s, which are summarized annually in the Local Competition and Broadband Report, are due September 3, 2013. FCC Form 477 collects data concerning broadband connections to end user locations, wired and wireless local telephone services, and interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services in individual states and territories.

    This filing requirement applies to: facilities-based providers of broadband connections to end user locations; providers of wired or fixed wireless local exchange telephone service; providers of interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (interconnected VoIP) service (including both service retailers and service wholesalers); and facilities-based providers of mobile telephony service. Filers must report data as of June 30, 2013.

    Completed forms can be filed electronically here. The FCC has released a webpage to assist filers with completing the form that is available here.
     
  • The FCC has released a Report and Order on how the Annual Regulatory Fees will be calculated and collected from licensees. The FCC has not set a deadline for collection of the fees, but has stated they will be due in September 2013. In this Report and Order, the FCC maintains its Annual Regulatory Fee for Commercial Mobile Radio Service Providers (CMRS) to $0.08 per user, and Interstate Telecommunications Service Providers (ITSPs) will be assessed 0.00375 of each assessable dollar. Further, the FCC states that it will no longer accept checks for the payment of regulatory fees effective October 1, 2013. A copy of the Report and Order can be found here. (FCC 13-110)
  • The FCC has proposed a Universal Service Fund contribution factor of 15.1% for the Third Quarter of 2013. A copy of the Public Notice announcing the rate can be found here. (DA 13-1361)

Please contact Ross BuntrockJon CanisMichael Hazzard, or Katherine Barker Marshall(contact information below) for further information regarding compliance matters.

Broadband News

  • The second round of Connect America funding will bring broadband to 600,000 homes and small businesses in 44 states and Puerto Rico for the first time. Over $385 Million will go to service providers in this effort. The previous round of funding totaled $415 Million. To read the FCC’s press release on this funding, click here.

In the Courts

  • On August 21, 2013, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire denied FairPoint Communication’s appeal of a New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) order prohibiting FairPoint from increasing certain tariffed interconnection rate charges. The state high court earlier had held that Verizon New Hampshire – FairPoint’s predecessor in interest – may not charge Carrier Common Line charges in certain instances. On remand, FairPoint filed a tariff revision to comply with that ruling, but it also increased a different interconnection fee. The New Hampshire PUC rejected that proposed rate increase, relying on the FCC’s Connect America Fund Order to hold that the disputed interconnected charge was capped. FairPoint argued that it was a “local transport element” not specifically covered by that Order, but the court reasoned that the rate was nevertheless capped by the FCC. The court also rejected FairPoint’s challenge to the timeliness of the PUC’s decision: “even if the PUC should have reviewed the portion of the tariff filing related to the interconnection charge under the time limit in [a procedural section of the PUC’s rules], I(b), it still would have rejected FairPoint’s proposal to increase the interconnection charge.” Appeal of N. New England Tel. Ops., LLC d/b/a FairPoint Commc’ns, No. 2012-398 (N.H. Aug. 21, 2013).

Please contact Ross BuntrockJon CanisMichael HazzardStephanie Joyce, or Joseph Bowser (contact information below) for further information.

Legislative Outlook

  • The House and Senate are scheduled to return from summer recess on September 9, 2013.