Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Announcements

  • The next Open Meeting of the FCC will be held October 28, 2013. The Final Agenda contains three items: the Rural Call Completion Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking; a Report and Order setting technical rules for the 700 MHz spectrum licensed to the First Responder Network Authority; and a Report and Order on interoperability in the 700 MHz spectrum. To read the Agenda, click here.

The Mobile Market

  • The FCC has rescheduled its Workshop on Unlicensed Spectrum Issues to October 24, 2013. The Workshop is part of the Learn Everything About Reverse-Auctions Now (LEARN) Program. To read the Public Notice, click here.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Privacy Regulation

  • 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.

Developments in Intercarrier Compensation

  • On October 15, 2013, Comcast Phone of New Hampshire informed the New Hampshire Supreme Court that it will not be appealing the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (NHPUC) order on remand regarding the regulatory status of Comcast cable voice service. On May 28, 2013, the NHPUC affirmed its 2011 decision that Comcast’s provision of cable voice service is subject to NHPUC regulation. The decision followed the 2012 enactment of a New Hampshire law that restructured telephone regulation within the state and prohibits regulating the market entry, market exit, transfer of control, rates, terms, or conditions of any VoIP service or IP-enabled service. The New Hampshire Supreme Court instructed the NHPUC to reevaluate its previous decision in light of the 2012 law, and Comcast and other VoIP providers argued that the NHPUC’s previous order was unenforceable as a result of the new regulatory regime. The NHPUC found that Comcast’s cable voice service “constitutes the conveyance of telephone messages to the public” subject to NHPUC regulation. New Hampshire, however, passed additional legislation in 2013 explicitly stating that the NHPUC is not authorized to regulate VoIP service. In light of that new law, Comcast told the Supreme Court that it will not appeal the NHPUC’s most recent ruling predicated on the 2012 legislation, but that it is still considering the effect of the order on remand as to whether Comcast should appeal the NHPUC’s prior orders related to VoIP service. Docket Nos. 09-004, 12-308.

Compliance Notes

  • The FCC issued a Public Notice providing revised filing deadlines after the shut-down. Filings that were due to the Commission between October 1 and October 6 are now due October 22, 2013. Filings that were due between October 7 and October 16 will be due 16 days after the original filing deadline. These extensions also apply to dockets for which responsive or reply pleadings are allowed. Further, these extensions do not apply to emergency outage reporting requirement, because that system remained available throughout the shut-down. Any Special Temporary Authority (STAs) grants expiring between October 1 and October 22 are extended until November 4, 2013. With regard to petitions for reconsideration, the Commission cannot waive the statutory deadlines. However, because of the shut-down, the FCC will not consider itself open for filing petitions for reconsideration until October 22, 2013. More information regarding these new filing deadlines can be found here. (DA 13-2025)
  • Form 499-Q is due November 1, 2013, for all filers that are not considered de minimis for Universal Service filing purposes. This filing encompasses historical revenues from the third quarter of 2013 and projected revenues for the first quarter of 2014. A copy of the current FCC Form 499-Q can be found here.
    Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers and Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) providers who rely on traffic studies to report interstate revenues on FCC Form 499-Q must submit these studies by November 1, 2013, to the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) and the Chief, Industry Analysis and Technology Division of the FCC.
  • The Universal Service Fund proposed contribution factor for the Fourth Quarter of 2013 is 15.6%. A copy of the Public Notice can be found here. (DA 13-1880)

In the Courts

  • On October 15, 2013, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado denied DISH Network’s Rule 41(d) motion for costs and attorneys’ fees against a Plaintiff who has twice sued DISH for violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Plaintiff Jaquita Lyons filed the suit against DISH in Florida in her individual capacity, alleging that DISH violated TCPA by making 264 unsolicited telephone calls to her. DISH claims that after the parties “engaged in full written discovery” and “on the eve of being deposed (and after DISH's counsel had spent considerable time preparing for the deposition),” Ms. Lyons sought and received a voluntary dismissal from the Florida court. When she re-filed her claims against DISH in Colorado federal court as a putative class action representative, DISH sought costs and fees from the Florida case and a stay of the Colorado case pending payment. The court denied the motion, because “Plaintiff has shown that this suit and the prior suit were not filed vexatiously. Plaintiff asserts that she dismissed the Florida Action and re-filed suit here because, during the Florida Action, she came to believe that the DISH policies and practices giving rise to her individual claims were systematic, and that therefore the same practices also may have affected other consumers.” The court also rejected the argument that Ms. Lyons was forum shopping by switching her suit from Florida to Colorado; DISH is headquartered in Colorado and thus it is a proper forum. The court also brushed aside DISH’s grievance concerning the timing of the dismissal of her Florida case, calling it “a factual dispute that is properly resolved at a later juncture in this case.” The case will proceed. Lyons v. Dish Network LLC, No 1:13-cv-00192 (D. Colo. Oct. 15, 2013).

Legislative Outlook

  • The House Communications Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled “The Evolution of Wired Communications Networks” on October 23, 2013, at 10:30 am in 2123 Rayburn. Witnesses TBA. To read more, click here.
  • The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade will hold a hearing titled “The FTC at 100: Where Do We Go From Here?” on October 24, 2013, at 2:00 pm in 2123 Rayburn. Witnesses TBA. To read more, click here.