Key Regulatory Dates

Comment Cycle Opens September 3 for Draft of Eligible Services for E-rate Support in 2015

  • The Wireline Competition Bureau announced that comments on its draft eligible services list (ESL) for support under the FCC’s E-rate Program for the funding year 2015 are due September 3, 2014, with reply comments due September 18, 2014. The draft ESL is designed to implement changes required by the Commission’s E-rate Modernization Order (WC Docket No. 13-184, FCC 14-99, which can be found here). Commentors are asked to state whether the draft is in line with the Commission’s goals and decisions contained in the E-rate Modernization Order, and to the extent any changes should be made to better meet the Commission’s expectations. More information, including the list of ESL, can be found here. For more information, please contact Katherine Barker MarshallJoseph P. Bowser, or the Arent Fox professional who handles your matters. (DA 14-1130)

Wireline Competition and Wireless Bureaus Host Webinar Regarding FCC Form 477 September 5

  • The Wireline Competition and Wireless Bureaus announced that they will host a joint webinar on September 5, 2014 to assist filers in preparing their FCC Form 477, Local Telephone Competition and Broadband Reporting, while utilizing the Commission’s new interface. The webinar will be held from 2:00–3:30 PM EDT. To register for this program, please send an e-mail to 477INFO@fcc.gov. The FCC Form 477 is due October 1, 2014. More information can be found here. For more information about the webinar or the filing for FCC Form 477, please contact Katherine Barker MarshallJoseph P. Bowser, or the Arent Fox professional who handles your matters. (DA 14-1192)

FCC Form 477 Due October 1, 2014

  • The Local Telephone Competition and Broadband Report, commonly known as FCC Form 477, is due October 1, 2014, and reports on connections as of June 30, 2014. Entities that are required to file FCC Form 477 include: Providers of wired or fixed wireless local exchange services; facilities-based providers of broadband connections to end users; providers of interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services to end users, and facilities-based mobile providers. Filers are also required to utilize the new portal for filing FCC Form 477. More information can be found here. For more information, please contact Katherine Barker MarshallJoseph P. Bowser, or the Arent Fox professional who handles your matters.

Key Industry Events

Next USAC E-rate Applicant Training, September 29, 2014, Washington, DC

  • The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) has announced workshops for schools, libraries, and consortia that plan to apply for funding from the Schools and Libraries Program, commonly known as E-rate. The workshops are complimentary and identical, and will take place in various cities throughout the country this fall. The next workshop is in Washington, DC. More information about the workshops, as well as registration information, can be found here.

FCC Open Commission Meeting, September 30, 2014, Washington, DC

  • For more information on the Commission’s next Open Meeting, click here.

Comptel PLUS, October 5–8, 2014, Dallas, TX

  • For more information on Comptel’s Fall 2014 Convention and Expo, which several Arent Fox attorneys will be attending, click here.

News Roundup

District Court Partially Dismisses TCPA Complaint Against Several Insurance Companies

  • On August 11, 2014, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois partially dismissed a complaint against three insurance companies — State Farm, Nationwide, and Farmers — for Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) violations resulting from phone calls made by the telemarketing company Variable Marketing, LLC (“Variable”). The plaintiffs asserted that the insurance companies were liable for Variable’s actions under three different theories of liability: direct liability, impermissible delegation, and vicarious liability. The court rejected the first two theories, holding that (1) the defendants could not be directly liable because they did not initiate the calls, and that (2) the TCPA does not support imposing liability for calls made by third party telemarketers under an impermissible delegation theory. The court also found that the plaintiffs had not pled facts sufficient to hold Nationwide or Farmers vicariously liable for Variable’s actions, and dismissed all claims against the two companies. However, because the plaintiffs sufficiently alleged an agency relationship between Variable and State Farm, the court did not dismiss the complaint as to State Farm. Smith v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 13-CV-2018, 2014 WL 3906923 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 11, 2014). For more information, please contact Radhika BhatJoseph P. Bowser, or the Arent Fox professional who handles your matters.

Federal Trade Commission Seeks Comment on Its Telemarketing Sales Rule

  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is seeking public comment by October 14, 2014 on the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) as part of a “systematic review of all current Commission regulations and guides.” The FTC’s TSR became law in 1995 and applies to virtually all outbound “telemarketing” calls to consumers, with telemarketing being defined broadly under the Telemarketing Act and the TSR to mean “a plan, program, or campaign which is conducted to induce the purchase of goods or services or a charitable contribution, by use of one or more telephones and which involves more than one interstate telephone call.” Although there are some exclusions to the FTC’s jurisdiction, businesses across numerous industries are subject to the TSR, and the FTC has been very aggressive in enforcing the TSR in recent years against companies that do not directly engage in telemarketing, but nevertheless assist companies that do. Without limiting the scope of issues on which interested parties can file comments, the FTC identified certain topics of interest, including “the continuing need for the TSR and its economic impact, the effect of the Rule on deception in telemarketing, and the interaction of the Rule with other regulations.” In addition, the FTC included in its Public Notice 38 particular questions on which it seeks comment. A copy of the FTC’s Public Notice can be found here, as well as a shorter FTC press release here. For more information or for assistance in filing comments, please contact Adam D. BowserJoseph P. Bowser, or the Arent Fox professional who handles your matters.

FCC Clarifies Standard of Review for Reseller Exemptions for Federal USF

  • In connection with the preparation of your 499 Forms, the FCC released an Order on July 25, 2014 stating that wholesale providers are required to meet a “preponderance of the evidence” standard to demonstrate their “reasonable expectation” that a reseller has directly contributed to the federal Universal Service Fund (USF) on its services that incorporated the wholesaler’s services. In its original Wholesaler-Reseller Clarification Order, the FCC stated that the “clear and convincing evidence” standard applies. This clarification brings the standard of proof in line with what applied in other administrative proceedings and in E-rate adjudications. USAC is instructed to apply the “preponderance of the evidence” standard after evaluating the reliability of any evidence submitted by the wholesaler, to demonstrate that the wholesaler had a reasonable expectation that its customer contributed to the federal USF on revenues from services that incorporated the purchased telecommunications services. A copy of the Order can be found here. For more information, please contact Katherine Barker MarshallJoseph P. Bowser, or the Arent Fox professional who handles your matters. (FCC 14-104)