Key Regulatory Dates

FCC Announces TRS Factor for Fund Year Beginning July 1, 2014

  • The FCC has announced that the federal Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) factor for the 2014-2015 Fund Year will be 0.01219, which is down slightly from last year. The Order, which also outlines compensation rates for TRS providers, can be found here. (DA 14-946) For more information, please contact Katherine Barker MarshallJoseph P. Bowser, or the Arent Fox professional who handles your matters.

Connect America Fund Phase II Challenges Due August 14, 2014

  • The Wireline Competition Bureau has opened the challenge process of Phase II of the Connect America Fund for price cap territories. Parties wishing to participate have until August 14, 2014 to file their initial challenges with the Bureau. The Bureau has released its list of census blocks that are 1) located in price cap territories; 2) “high cost” according to the adopted Connect America Cost Model, which states that the census block has a calculated average cost per location above $52.50 and below $207.81; and (3) shown as unserved by an unsubsidized competitor. Challenges may only be based on whether the block is served by an unsubsidized competitor. Challengers must use FCC Form 505 to file a challenge in WC Docket 14-93. The Public Notice announcing the opening of the process can be found here, and the process in general can be found here. (DA 14-942) For more information, please contact Katherine Barker MarshallJoseph P. Bowser, or the Arent Fox professional who handles your matters.

FCC Seeks Comment on Annual Regulatory Fees; Reply Comments Due July 14, 2014

  • The FCC requests comment on its proposed methodologies for allocating and collecting its annual regulatory fees from its licensees. Initial comments are due July 7, 2014, with reply comments due July 14, 2014. In its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Commission proposes to reduce its assessment rate for Interstate Telecommunications Service Providers (ITSPs), which include interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers, local exchange and interexchange carriers, to $0.00340 per assessable dollar, and an increase in the rate Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) service providers pay to a rate of $0.18 per subscriber.

As a reminder, the FCC no longer accepts checks and hardcopy forms (such as FCC Form 159-W) for payment of regulatory fees. This change is made in accordance with the Office of Management and Budget’s Open Government Directive, which requires the US Treasury to move towards paperless payment processes. A copy of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which also proposes annual regulatory fees for other FCC Licensees, can be found here. (FCC 14-88) For more information, please contact Katherine Barker Marshall,Joseph P. Bowser, or the Arent Fox professional who handles your matters.

FCC Form 499-Q Due August 1, 2014

  • Form 499-Q is due August 1, 2014 for all filers that are not considered de minimis for Universal Service filing purposes. This filing encompasses historical revenues from the second quarter of 2014 and projected revenues for the fourth 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 August 1, 2014 to the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) and the Chief, Industry Analysis and Technology Division of the FCC. For more information, please contact Katherine Barker MarshallJoseph P. Bowser, or the Arent Fox professional who handles your matters.

Key Industry Events

FCC Open Commission Meeting, July 11, 2014

  • The FCC’s next open meeting will be held on July 11, 2014. The Commission plans to address an effort to modernize the E-rate program, fund rural broadband experiments, and closed captioning of IP-delivered video clips.  For more information on the meeting, including the tentative agenda, click here.

Comments Due July 15, 2014 in FCC Open Internet Proceeding

  • For more information on the comment-cycle deadlines and issues being debated in the FCC’s closely watched Open Internet proceeding, click here

Mobile Media Summit, July 29, 2014, Chicago

  • For more information on the Mobile Media Summit at the Mid-America Club in Chicago, click here.

News Roundup

TCPA Complaint No Más

  • On July 2, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a complaint against Taco Bell Corporation (“Taco Bell”) alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). The plaintiff had received a text message as part of a sweepstakes run by the Chicago Area Taco Bell Local Owners Advertising Association (“Chicago Association”), a corporation distinct from Taco Bell. The plaintiff claimed that Taco Bell was vicariously liable for the actions of the Chicago Association and the parties who sent the text messages on the Chicago Association’s behalf. The Ninth Circuit rejected this argument, finding that the plaintiff had not demonstrated that Taco Bell had the right to control the manner and means of the text message campaign, and that the plaintiff had not shown that she had relied on representations from Taco Bell that the Chicago Association was its authorized agent. Thomas v. Taco Bell Corp., 12-56458, 2014 WL 2959160 (9th Cir. July 2, 2014). For more information, please contact Radhika BhatJoseph P. Bowser, or the Arent Fox professional who handles your matters.

District Court Denies TCPA Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend Complaint as Futile

  • On July 1, 2014, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California denied a plaintiff’s motion to amend her complaint against Verizon Wireless (“Verizon”) in order to narrow the putative class, finding that the amendment would be futile. The plaintiff alleged that Verizon had violated the TCPA by calling her phone to collect a debt owed by her former bother-in-law. Her former brother-in-law, however, had provided her phone number to Verizon as his contact number. Verizon claimed that it stopped calling the plaintiff when it learned it could not reach her former brother-in-law at that number. After the plaintiff’s original purported class was denied certification on typicality and adequacy grounds, the plaintiff moved to amend her complaint in order to narrow the class. The court denied the motion, noting that the TCPA’s purpose is to prevent invasions of privacy and stating that if the plaintiff had suffered any such invasion, the source was not Verizon, but her former brother-in-law. As such, narrowing the class would not save her complaint from summary judgment. Labau v. Cellco P'ship, 2:13-CV-00844-MCE, 2014 WL 2987767 (E.D. Cal. July 1, 2014). For more information, please contact Radhika Bhat,Joseph P. Bowser, or the Arent Fox professional who handles your matters.

Federal Trade Commission Sues T-Mobile Over Premium SMS Billing

  • The Federal Trade Commission announced last week that it filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington against T-Mobile USA alleging that the wireless company had allowed third parties to improperly bill consumers for premium SMS subscriptions and that T-Mobile was aware of and profited from the improper charges. According to the complaint, T-Mobile continued to bill for premium subscription services for extended periods of time, even after becoming aware that the charges might be improper.  According to the complaint, some services had extremely high refund rates, which put T-Mobile on notice that many consumers were not consenting to the charges. The FTC also faults T-Mobile’s billing practices, which it says made it difficult for consumers to discover improper charges on their bills. T-Mobile is denying that it did anything improper.  For more information, please contact David CarterJoseph P. Bowser, or the Arent Fox professional who handles your matters.