Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Announcements

  • The next two FCC Open Meetings are scheduled for October 22 and November 14, 2013. The Tentative Agenda for the October 22 Open Meeting contains three items, including an order adopting rules for FirstNet use of 700 MHz spectrum, and the order on rural call completion that Acting Chair Clyburn began circulating on or about September 17. 

The Mobile Market

  • On September 30, 2013, the FCC released an Order on Reconsideration amending the new text-to-911 rule that had made a consumer’s subscribed wireless carrier responsible for sending bounce-back messages when text-to-911 service is not available, even when the subscriber is roaming on another carrier’s network. CTIA had filed a petition for reconsideration or, in the alternative, for clarification of this new rule. According to the order, a “CMRS provider offering roaming service (host provider) satisfies its bounce-back obligation provided that it does not impede the consumer’s text to the consumer’s home network provider (home provider) or impede any bounce-back message generated by the home provider back to the consumer.” The amended rule will take effect upon publication in the Federal Register. The text of the order is unavailable at this time due to the shutdown. PS Docket Nos. 11-153 and 10-255

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Privacy Regulation

  • On September 30, 2013, the FTC announced that it is mailing 134 refund checks to consumers who lost money as a result of an illegal robocalling operation. According to the FTC, the illegal operation was a “debt relief services scam that claimed it would dramatically reduce consumers’ credit card interest rates.” The robocall operation contacted consumers purporting to be from a “Card Services” division. The FTC is returning more than $132,000 to consumers, each of whom will receive a refund of their full loss amount, ranging between $289 and $2,600.
  • 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”. 

Developments in Intercarrier Compensation

  • On October 1, 2013, the Nebraska Public Service Commission (NPSC) issued a final order approving a stipulated settlement agreement between AT&T Communications of the Midwest and Orbitcom resolving their dispute over Orbitcom’s intrastate switched access charges. The NPSC agreed to vacate two previous orders it had issued in this proceeding, and the carriers agreed to withdraw an appeal pending in a Nebraska district court. This proceeding was initiated by Orbitcom on February 27, 2009, when it filed a formal complaint against AT&T to recover unpaid intrastate access charges. AT&T later filed a separate formal complaint, alleging that Orbitcom’s intrastate switched access rates were unreasonable. The NPSC previously had found AT&T’s complaint untimely under a Nebraska statute that requires challenges to a carrier’s rates to be filed within 90 days. After AT&T appealed this decision to a Nebraska district court, the NPSC was required to revisit its decision on remand and determine whether Orbitcom’s rates were just and reasonable. In February 2013, after reviewing Orbitcom’s revenues and costs, the NPSC ruled that Orbitcom’s intrastate switched access rates were reasonable, and was affirmed on appeal. The carriers’ settlement agreement, however, moots the controversy and the NPSC thus agreed to vacate its previous orders in this proceeding. Docket Nos. FC-1335, FC-1332.

Compliance Notes

  • The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) remains open, and all USAC filing deadlines remain in effect during the federal government shutdown. More information can be found here.

Eligible Telecommunications Carriers (ETCs) that draw on either Lifeline and/or High Cost funds are required to file FCC Form 481 with USAC and the applicable state utility commissions by October 15, 2013. The filing must also be filed with the FCC on the first business day after normal operations resume. FCC Form 481 fulfills the ETCs’ annual reporting requirements. More information can be found here.

  • 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.

  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%. (DA 13-1880)

In the Courts

  • On October 1, 2013, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington dismissed with prejudice the securities fraud shareholder against wireless aggregator Motricity arising from its June 2010 initial public offering (IPO). Plaintiffs alleged that Motricity made false and misleading statements about the health of the company in its IPO filings. Its stock reached a class period high of $30.47, but fell to just $0.61 per share in July 2012. The court held in January that plaintiffs’ second amended complaint failed to plead sufficient facts to support their securities claims, but afforded them a chance to amend. The third amended complaint fared no better. “For the most part, plaintiffs have merely repackaged the facts alleged in the [second amended complaint] and recycled their previous arguments, without adding any new substance to their allegations.” The court held that plaintiffs’ continued failings warrant dismissal with prejudice. “The fact that plaintiffs have failed, in the [third amended complaint], to correct the deficiencies identified in the [second amended complaint] is strong indication that plaintiffs have no additional facts to plead.” Plaintiffs’ only recourse now is an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Callan v. Motricity Inc., No. C11-1340 TSZ (W.D. Wash. Oct. 1, 2013).