Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Announcements

  • The next two FCC Open Meetings are scheduled for September 26 and October 22, 2013.

The Mobile Market

  • The California chapter of the National Emergency Number Association (CALNENA) has requested that the FCC take immediate action to investigate 911 location services. CALNENA had recently commissioned a report concluding that more than half of 911 calls made in five areas of California are being transmitted without sufficient information about the caller’s location. CALNENA noted a decline since 2008 in the delivery of location data in each of the areas it studied (San Francisco, Pasadena, Bakersfield, San Jose, and Ventura County). The study showed that the percentage of AT&T calls with location data had dropped from 92% to 31% and T-Mobile’s had dropped from 47% to 19%. The data showed that Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and MetroPCS all delivered more than 40% of their calls without location information. Overall, less than 45% of the nearly 1.6 million 911 calls in the state of California in March 2013 carried the location data.

    The NENA letter to the FCC is available here.

    The data report 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.

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.

New Markets: Smart Grid and E-Health

  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has written a letter to Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), expressing concerns about the security of a data “hub” that is being developed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support a new network of health insurance exchanges. Senator McConnell is concerned that HHS will not have an independent security assessment done by an outside testing organization until just 10 days before the Hub is scheduled to begin operations and that, as a result, there may not be sufficient time to address any issues found by the security audit. According to McConnell, the HHS Inspector General (IG) expressed similar concerns in a report issued earlier this month. “CMS is working with very tight deadlines to ensure that security measures for the Hub are assessed, tested, and implemented by the expected initial open enrollment date of Oct. 1, 2013,” the IG said. CMS has responded to the concerns by noting its ongoing internal processes to address security concerns and that they feel confident they will be able to meet the current deadlines and begin operation of the hub by October 1, 2013. Senator McConnell’s letter is available on his website here.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE) has announced the publication of a new report from the Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) program. The report, based on an analysis by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, focuses on twelve Recovery Act synchrophasor projects being implemented under SGIG and the Smart Grid Demonstration programs. These projects are installing synchrophasor technologies and systems across the country and beginning to use various on-line and off-line applications for managing system operations and for planning and post event forensic analysis. The report explains how synchrophasor technologies work and how they can be used to improve the efficiency, reliability, and resiliency of grid operations. The report is available here.

Developments in Intercarrier Compensation

  • On August 12, 2013, Sprint Corp. filed a response to CenturyLink’s motion to dismiss Sprint as an intervenor in a Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) proceeding. On April 1, 2013, CenturyLink petitioned the WUTC for relief from traditional rate-of-return regulation pursuant to RCW 80.36.135 and submitted a proposed plan for an alternative form of regulation (AFOR). Sprint filed a motion to intervene in this proceeding on April 29, 2013, and, according to CenturyLink’s motion, then served CenturyLink with burdensome discovery requests. CenturyLink stated that “resources will be wasted if Sprint is permitted to stay in the docket to attempt to extract competitive information from CenturyLink and to extort concessions from CenturyLink on VoIP interconnection issues that Sprint has not raised in negotiations, that are not within the scope of this docket, and that cannot be addressed in an AFOR proceeding.” In response, Sprint stated that its intervention and related discovery requests have raised issues that are “central to the development of effective competition in Washington State, namely CenturyLink’s obligation to negotiate in good faith requests for Internet interconnection.” Docket No. UT-130477.

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 Universal Service Fund contribution factor for the Third Quarter of 2013 is15.1% for the third Quarter of 2013. A copy of the Public Notice announcing the rate can be found here. (DA 13-1361)

Broadband News

  • The FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force will hold a webinar on August 22, 2013, from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm Eastern, to explain how the Commission will “repack” television spectrum after the forward auction. Viewers will be able to submit questions during the webinar. For more information, including how to obtain the login data, click here.

In the Courts

  • On August 8, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) claims carry a four-year statute of limitations in light of the Supreme Court’s holding in Mims v. Arrow Financial (2012). The court then held that plaintiff’s TCPA lawsuit, his fourth, filed in September 2009, about an allegedly unsolicited fax in January 2004 was barred despite any tolling of that period during his first three suits on the same fax. Previously, the Second Circuit had held that Connecticut’s two-year limitations period applied, but the U.S. Supreme Court vacated that decision and ordered the Second Circuit to reconsider in light of Mims. On reconsideration, the court of appeals agreed the federal four-year catch-all statute of limitations, 28 U.S.C. § 1658(a), applies on the ground that federal question jurisdiction attaches under TCPA. Here, plaintiff’s first suit was stayed until his motion for class certification was denied. His petition for reconsideration of that opinion and subsequent appeal did not continue the tolling period: “After class status is denied, the named plaintiff thus has no responsibility to pursue any additional avenue to maintain the action as a class action under Rule 23, such as appeal or reconsideration,” the court explained. As such, once “class status has been disallowed, Rule 23 no longer operates to protect non-named plaintiffs.” The trial court’s dismissal was therefore affirmed. Giovanniello v. ALM Media, Inc., No. 10-3854-cv (2d Cir. Aug. 8, 2013).

Legislative Outlook

  • On August 14, 2013, the House Communications Subcommittee announced that it will hold a hearing in September to review how video content delivery is regulated. The Subcommittee presently is reexamining the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act that will sunset at the end of 2014. To read the announcement, click here.
  • The House and Senate are scheduled to return from summer recess on September 9, 2013.

Upcoming Events

  • The Telecom Group is co-hosting an event with MobileMondays to discuss the growing mHealth apps market on September 23, 2013, from 6:00 to 8:30 pm Eastern. It will be held at Arent Fox, 1717 K Street NW. Telecom Group Partner Stephanie Joyce will moderate.