FCC Argues for Federal Regulation of Interconnected VoIP

Late last month, the FCC filed a brief in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission exceeded its authority by trying to regulate interconnected VoIP service provided by Charter Communications. The FCC’s brief was filed as part of the appeal by the Minnesota PUC of a federal district court ruling that Charter’s VoIP service should be classified as an information service exempt from state regulation. The Court’s order overturned a 2015 Order by the Minnesota PUC requiring Charter to comply with all Minnesota laws and rules applicable to local phone service. In its brief, the FCC argued that Minnesota’s attempt to regulate VoIP service threatens to disrupt the national voice services market. For more information, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239).

FCC Enforcement Update

Last week, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau entered into a Consent Decree with a company that marketed and sold non-compliant equipment that operated in the U-NII 5 GHz unlicensed band. The devices allowed users to modify the settings in a way that caused harmful interference to Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) systems used by the FAA air traffic controllers to detect potentially hazardous weather conditions for aircraft. The company admitted to violating the FCC’s rules and agreed to implement a compliance plan and pay a $95,000 civil penalty. Please contact Greg Kunkle (202.434.4178; kunkle@khlaw.com) with questions.

National Emergency Address Database

Last week, the FCC released a Memorandum Opinion and Order approving the Privacy and Security Plan for the National Emergency Address Database (NEAD) submitted in February of this year by national wireless carriers and the NEAD, LLC. The NEAD relies on media access control (MAC) address and Bluetooth Public Device Address (BT-PDA) information of fixed indoor access points to locate wireless devices being used to call 911 from indoor locations. The NEAD is critical to implement the 911 wireless location accuracy rules adopted by the FCC earlier this year (Vol XII, Issue 6). The Privacy and Security Plan confirms that information submitted to populate the NEAD will not be used for commercial purposes nor will it be disclosed to third parties, including governmental entities, other than for E911 purposes. For additional information, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239).

FCC Tower Violation

The FCC released a Notice of Violation last week finding that a tower owner in Jonesboro, Arkansas had violated the Commission’s rule requiring tower lights to be replaced or repaired as soon as possible. The Notice alleges that the tower owner issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) on February 2, 2017, indicating that lights on the structure were not functioning properly. The NOTAM has been renewed a few times in the interim and the Commission has still not received confirmation from the tower owner that the structure’s lights have been repaired. The tower owner has 20 days to respond to the Notice. For additional information, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239).

FCC Consumer Webinar

The FCC released a Public Notice last week announcing that its Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau will conduct a webinar on the afternoon of December 4th to provide consumer protection information on topics including: robocalls and spoofing; protecting mobile devices; identifying and contesting unwanted charges on a phone bill (such as roaming); public wi-fi security tips; privacy issues associated with using mobile devices and apps; and charitable donations. Registration is not required and the webinar will be streamed live on the FCC’s website. Please contact Tracy Marshall (202.434.4234; marshall@khlaw.com) with questions.