Monday, April 22, 2013

NTIA Letter on Clearing Spectrum

In a letter to the FCC, NTIA Administrator Larry Strickling sets out the following four steps that NTIA and the FCC should take to prepare the 1695-1710 and 1755-1780 MHz bands for commercial licensing.  In an earlier letter, the FCC expressed its intent to auction the federally-used spectrum for wireless broadband use as early as September 2014.

  1. For both bands, NTIA’s letter asks the Commission to use a rulemaking process to set the conditions under which federal and non-federal users would share the spectrum.  To facilitate sharing, NTIA recommends that the agencies adopt technical parameters for the new wireless systems and implement a coordination process for the federal and non-federal users.
  2. NTIA recognizes that the Commission may wish to pair and auction the 1755-1780 and 2155-2180 MHz bands together.  NTIA points out, however, that auctioning the 1755-1780 MHz band will require the reallocation of the entire 1755-1850 MHz band because federal users currently operate throughout the entire swath of spectrum.  Therefore, the FCC “will need to consider the potential for a phased transition to facilitate commercial access to the 1755-1780 MHz band in a shorter timeframe while preserving longer-term repurposing and transition opportunities for the entire 1755-1850 MHz band.”
  3. NTIA’s working group recommends transitioning federal users out of the 1755-1780 MHz band by different geographic priorities, which will require agencies to establish clearing timelines based on their operational requirements.  NTIA asks the Commission to ensure that prospective commercial bidders understand that the agencies may not be able to vary their transition timelines.
  4. The letter explains that NTIA and the FCC may have to identify and reallocate replacement spectrum to accommodate displaced federal operations if the agencies cannot use sharing or other technologies to maintain their capabilities.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

May Open Meeting Agenda

The FCC released the tentative agenda for its next Open Meeting on May 9.  The Commission plans to consider:

  • An NPRM that would expand broadband access to airplane passengers by establishing an Air-Ground Mobile Broadband service in the 14-14.5 GHz band; and
  • An NPRM and NOI that would promote commercial space operations by easing access to spectrum for commercial space operators, among other measures.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 10:30 AM, and it will be streamed live at www.fcc.gov/live.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

FCC Approves Foreign Ownership Order

At today’s FCC Open Meeting, the Commissioners unanimously adopted the Foreign Ownership Second Report and Order, which streamlines the Commission’s policies for reviewing foreign ownership of common carrier wireless licensees.  The Order is intended to facilitate investment in wireless networks and spur technological advances. 

The Order eliminates the distinction between WTO member countries and non-WTO member countries, requires petitioners to identify only those foreign investors that would hold equity and/or voting interests of greater than 5 percent (and sometimes greater than 10 percent), allows petitioners to get prior approval for certain types of specific foreign investment that may occur in the future, and allows licensees with foreign investors to add new services and service areas without seeking another declaratory ruling. 

The FCC estimates that these changes will reduce the number of Section 310(b) petitions for declaratory rulings that are filed each year by 70 percent. 

The Commission has released its News Release announcing the Commission’s vote, and please look for our upcoming post of the Order when it is released. 
 
If you have any questions regarding the contents of today's Open Meeting, please feel free to contact us.

FCC Acts on VoIP Numbering

At today’s FCC Open Meeting, the Commissioners unanimously adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks comment on rules that will give interconnected VoIP providers direct access to telephone numbers.  Currently, VoIP providers get access to phone numbers through intermediary, traditional telephone companies, which can raise costs and slow the introduction of innovative services.  In order to test these proposals, the Commission also launched a six-month trial that will give Vonage and other VoIP providers direct access to a limited number of phone numbers. 

Relatedly, the Commissioners also adopted a Notice of Inquiry that seeks comment on the ongoing relationship between area codes and geographic locations in a time of number portability. 

News Release announcing these actions has been released, and we are currently awaiting the documents when they are released.  If you have any questions regarding either Notice adopted today, please feel to contact the TLP team with any questions.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

FCC April Open Meeting Agenda

The FCC released the final agenda for its Open Meeting on April 18.  The Commission is scheduled to hear a presentation on the status of CTIA’s bill shock alerts, which will be fully implemented on April 17.  The presentation will report on participating carriers’ compliance with CTIA’s requirements.  The Commission will also consider:

  • A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry on allowing IP-based providers to have direct access to telephone numbers.   The Commission will also consider an Order that would allow a limited trial of giving VoIP providers direct access to numbers; and
  • A Second Report and Order that would streamline the foreign ownership rules for common carrier radio licensees and certain aeronautical radio licensees.  The Order would reduce regulatory burdens while ensuring that the Commission can protect the public interest.

The Open Meeting is scheduled to begin at 10:00 AM, and it will be broadcast live at www.fcc.gov/live.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions regarding the upcoming meeting.

Signal Boosters and Unlicensed Devices

The Signal Booster Report and Order was published in the Federal Register, which set the Order’s effective date as May 13, 2013.  Therefore, by June 12, 2013, signal booster equipment certification applications must demonstrate that the device meets the new rules, and by November 13, 2013, all signal boosters marketed or sold in the United States must meet the adopted rules. 

Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The President's Budget Proposes FCC Spectrum User Fees.....Again

After a two month delay, the White House finally released President Obama's budget proposal for FY 2014. The President's proposal calls for $3.78 trillion in spending for the coming fiscal year, up 6% from projected spending levels in the current fiscal year

To help offset the increased spending, the President's budget once again proposes that Congress authorize the FCC to impose a spectrum user fee on certain licenses not allocated through an auction. Such spectrum fees would generate around $4.8 billion over the next ten years according to the budget proposal. 

While President Obama is merely following in the previous Bush Administration's footsteps by proposing the spectrum user fee as a spending offset in his budget proposal, the Obama Administration has actually attempted to get Congress to authorize the spectrum user fee. During the 112th Congress, the Obama Administration and Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) proposed the following language in its jobs stimulus and payroll tax holiday legislative packages.
 
SECTION ___. AUTHORITY TO ESTABLISH SPECTRUM LICENSE USER FEES.
Section 309 of the Communications Act of 1934 is amended by adding the following new
subsection at the end thereof:
"(m) USE OF SPECTRUM LICENSE USER FEES. – For initial licenses or
construction permits that are not granted through the use of competitive bidding as set
forth in subsection (j), and for renewals or modifications of initial licenses or other
authorizations, whether granted through competitive bidding or not, the Commission
may, where warranted, establish, assess, and collect annual user fees on holders of
spectrum licenses or construction permits, including their successors or assignees, in
order to promote efficient and effective use of the electromagnetic spectrum.

However, the House Republican majority opposed the spectrum user fee provision and the legislative language above was never enacted into law.

For many FCC licensees, the language above was problematic, especially because it would give the FCC the ability to impose the spectrum user fee on licensees in an arbitrary manner. For example, while all Block A and B cellular licenses (mainly held by Verizon and AT&T), older broadcast TV and radio station licenses, cable CARS licenses (held by Comcast, Time Warner Cable, et al.), microwave licenses used for broadband backhaul, certain satellite licenses and various business and industrial radio licenses were not allocated via an auction, the FCC could decide to target only one type of service under the legislative language above. At that time, many television broadcast licensees feared that the FCC would target their licenses with the spectrum user fee if they did not participate in an incentive auction.
 
TLP has significant experience benefiting its clients by successfully lobbying Congress on spectrum related legislation. If you have questions regarding the spectrum user fee proposal or any legislation or activity in Congress that could impact the telecommunications, media and technology sectors, please contact Vance Schuemann or any member of the TLP team.






 
 
 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Filing Deadline: 499-Q Due May 1

All telecommunications carriers that provide interstate telecommunications services are required to file Form 499-Q Telecommunications Reporting Worksheet with the Commission on or before May 1, 2013.  Carriers must provide revenue information for January 1 through March 31, 2013 and projections for July 1 through September 30, 2013.  Additionally, to the extent that interconnected VoIP or CMRS providers rely on a traffic study to report interstate revenues, the traffic study must be submitted to the FCC and USAC.

Access to Form 499-Q can be found at the following link:
 
and corresponding filing instructions can be found here:
 
 
If you should have any questions regarding this filing, please do not hesitate to contact the TLP Team. 

House Committee Markup of Cybersecurity Legislation (CISPA) Expected This Week

The House Select Committee on Intelligence, under the leadership of Chairman Rogers (R-MI) and Ranking Member Ruppersberger (D-MD), have scheduled a markup of H.R. 624, the “Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act” (CISPA) for April 10, 2013 at 2:00 pm EST.  While the approach of the CISPA bill has widespread support in the telecom industry, Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Ruppersberger have been working to address concerns that civil liberties and privacy advocates have over the information sharing provisions. As such, the Committee leaders will hold a press conference  today at 4:00 pm EST to discuss the status of the CISPA bill and amendments expected for consideration during markup.

In the last Congress, bipartisan cybersecurity legislation similar to the CISPA bill passed in the House with significant support despite a veto threat by the President.  However, that House-passed CISPA bill was then blocked from further consideration in the Senate, where the Democratic majority and the Obama Administration wanted a more comprehensive and regulatory approach toward mandating cybersecurity standards on the private sector. In January 2013, the Senate Democratic leaders (Senate Commerce  Committee Chairman Rockefeller, Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Carper (D-DE) and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Feinstein (D-CA)) reintroduced their cybersecurity bill (S. 21, the Cybersecurity and American Cyber Competitiveness Act of 2013).

Further, the President also issued an Executive Order on cybersecurity after his State of the Union Speech in February 2013. Nevertheless, the Administration is still asking for Congress to pass  legislation, such as the Senate bill, to provide the Executive Branch with the additional authority that they would like to have.

TLP has helped clients with issues related to cybersecurity policies, including assisting a client in testifying before Congress on the subject of cybersecurity and communications networks. If you have any questions regarding the CISPA bill, the Executive Order or any legislation or activity in Congress that could impact the telecommunications, media and technology sectors, please contact Vance Schuemann or any member of the TLP team.

Friday, April 5, 2013

House to Move Legislation to Preserve Internet Freedom; Will make it the policy of the United States to promote a global Internet free from government control

Next week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, under the leadership of Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Ranking Member Anna Eshoo (D-CA), will hold a markup to consider H.R.___, a bill to affirm the policy of the United States regarding Internet governance.  Specifically, the legislation will make it the official "policy of the United States to promote a global Internet free from government control and to preserve and advance the successful multistakeholder model that governs the Internet."

The Subcommittee will convene at 4:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, April 10, for opening statements only. The Subcommittee will then reconvene on Thursday, April 11, at 2:15 p.m. EST to markup the legislation and consider any amendments.  Both markup sessions will be webcast live here.

The following is from the Committee majority staff's briefing memorandum and provides some background on the need for the legislation as well as a summary of the bill.

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I. Overview
If Congress sits idly by, attempts to drag the Internet within the ambit of international regulatory bodies just might succeed. In 2012, the House and Senate unanimously passed resolutions opposing treaty proposals at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12) to subject the Internet to regulation at the hands of the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations agency. The resolutions are credited with emboldening more than 50 nations to join the United States in refusing to sign the treaty. Unfortunately, this is likely the start, not end, of international efforts to regulate the Internet. That is why the subcommittee will consider legislation taking the language of last year’s resolutions and making it the policy of the United States "to promote a global Internet free from government control and to preserve and advance the successful multi-stakeholder model that governs the Internet."

Governments’ hands-off approach has enabled the Internet to grow at an astonishing pace and become perhaps the most powerful engine of social and economic freedom and job creation the world has ever known. Under the current multi-stakeholder governance model, non-regulatory institutions manage and operate the Internet by developing best practices with public and private sector input. This allows the Internet to evolve quickly, to meet the diverse needs of users around the world, and to keep governmental or non-governmental actors from controlling the design and operation of the network or the content it carries. By strengthening last year’s legislation from a resolution opposing a particular treaty proposal to the official policy of the United States, Congress will demonstrate its commitment to Internet freedom and push back on those nations that might subvert the Internet for their own purposes.
 
II. Background
Many of the world’s nations went to Dubai from December 3-14, 2012, for the WCIT-12. The purpose of the conference was to update the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs), a treaty adopted in 1988 to govern certain aspects of international telephone service. On the agenda were provisions regarding the interconnection of phone networks, charges for completing international calls, and roaming terms for wireless subscribers using their phones abroad.

Because the ITRs were designed to regulate the world of international calling that existed in the 1980s, modern Internet traffic and networks fell outside their scope. Drafted and agreed to in Melbourne, Australia, the ITRs were conceived in an era when most countries still had monopoly, government-owned telephone networks. They are not well suited for application to the Internet, and organizers of the Dubai conference gave assurances that WCIT-12 would not address the Internet. In the lead up to the conference, however, a number of member nations attempted to incorporate Internet-related issues.

Countries such as China, Russia and Iran sought to add language governing unwanted messages (spam), miscellaneous "security" and "cybersecurity" issues, assignment of Internet domain names and addresses, and verification of users’ online identities. Other proposals sought to expand application of the ITRs from "recognized operating agencies"—telephone companies offering international telephone service to the public—to "operating agencies." A proposal by the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO) would have mandated "sending party pays," a particular system of compensation for international Internet traffic, rather than allow parties to experiment with, negotiate over, and possibly compete based on different cost recovery and payment methodologies. Moreover, many member states objected when others sought, successfully, to add language to the ITRs preamble granting nations, not people, a right of access to international telecommunications services.

Some parties advocated regulation because they see a revenue opportunity through tariff-type rules to fund their own communications and non-communications objectives. Others advocated it because they want to control the flow of information. Although couched in terms of broadband deployment and cybersecurity, at bottom such proposals could be used by countries as excuses to impose economic regulation on the Internet, and possibly even to censor speech their governments find threatening.

Many in the U.S. government voiced reservations that these issues were beyond the stated scope of the conference and would inappropriately expand the ITRs beyond traditional phone service into Internet regulation. To express its concerns, last Congress the Energy and Commerce Committee marked up H. Con. Res. 127, a concurrent resolution supporting the multi-stakeholder model and opposing international attempts to regulate the Internet. The House of Representatives passed H. Con. Res 127 on August 2, 2011, by a vote of 414-0. The Senate passed a nearly identical measure, S. Con. Res. 50, on September 22, 2011, by unanimous consent. The House agreed to the Senate version on December 5, 2011, by a vote of 397-0.

As the WCIT drew to a close, however, the delegations were presented proposals that recognized an international regulatory role in the operation and governance of the Internet. While it did not include the ETNO proposal, it did include a version of the spam proposal as well as a new term of "authorized operating agencies." The impact of these changes is not yet clear.
Consistent with Congress’s resolution, Ambassador Terry Kramer, head of the U.S. delegation, opposed the expansion of the ITRs to Internet issues and the United States refused to sign the treaty. Fifty-four other countries—including Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, the Czech Republic, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Greece, Japan, Kenya, Chile, Portugal, and Costa Rica—joined the United States either in outright refusing to sign the treaty or indicating they would need to consult with their governments. Eighty-nine counties did sign the new ITRs, which will take effect in January 2015.

The Subcommittee held a joint hearing with the Foreign Affairs Committee on February 5, 2013, that included discussion of draft legislation converting last year’s unanimous resolutions into the policy of the United States. The draft legislation is virtually identical to those resolutions, with small changes to convert it from a resolution to a statement of U.S. policy and to revise the findings to reflect the results of the WCIT-12.
III. Section-by-Section
Section 1: Findings

This section makes a number of findings related to the governance of the Internet and the Internet’s importance to society, including that:

• The Internet must remain stable, secure, and free from government control;

• The world deserves the access to knowledge and economic benefits that the Internet provides and that are the bedrock of democratic self-governance;

• The structure of Internet governance has profound implications for competition and trade, democratization, free expression, and access to information;

• Countries have obligations to protect human rights, whether exercised online or offline; and

• Proposals to fundamentally alter the governance and operation of the Internet would diminish freedom of expression on the Internet in favor of government control over content.

Section 2. Policy Regarding Internet Governance

Section 2 states: "It is the policy of the United States to promote a global Internet free from government control and to preserve and advance the successful multistakeholder model that governs the Internet."
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Should you have any questions regarding this markup as well as any legislation or activity in Congress that could impact the telecommunications, media and technology sectors, please contact Vance Schuemann or any member of the TLP team.



Thursday, April 4, 2013

Senate Antitrust Subcommittee Oversight Hearing Scheduled for April 16

The Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, under the leadership of Chairman Klobuchar (D-MN) and Ranking Member Lee (R-UT), has scheduled a hearing entitled “Oversight of the Enforcement of the Antitrust Laws” for Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 2:30 p.m. EST.  Appearing before the Subcommittee at the oversight hearing will be Assistant Attorney General William Baer of the Antitrust Division in the Department of Justice as well as Chairwoman Edith Ramirez of the Federal Trade Commission.

As far as communications and technology matters, the Senators will likely ask the authorities, among other things, about the level of competition in the mobile, broadband and Internet search markets. In particular, some Senators many ask Assistant Attorney General Baer about any competitive issues related to the significant spectrum holdings that are being acquired under the SoftBank-Sprint-Clearwire deal, especially in light of the DoJ-blocked AT&T/T-Mobile deal that involved much less prime mobile spectrum under 3 GHz. Moreover, the Subcommittee members may question the antitrust authorities about Google's continued dominance of the Internet search and online ads markets as well as the FTC's decision to drop its antitrust case.

Should you have any questions regarding this hearing as well as any legislation or activity in Congress that could impact the telecommunications, media and technology sectors, please contact Vance Schuemann or any member of the TLP team.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

USTR Releases Its 2013 Report on International Trade Barriers Facing U.S. Telecommunications Service Providers and Equipment Suppliers

Today, the United States Trade Representative released its annual Section 1377 report on trade barriers facing U.S. telecommunications service providers and equipment suppliers. The complete USTR report can be found here, and the summary and press release follow below:

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Annual Report Highlights Local Content Requirements, Other Roadblocks Faced by U.S. Telecom Exporters

Washington, D.C. – Acting United States Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis today outlined the key barriers faced by U.S. telecommunications service and equipment suppliers, and identified specific telecommunications-related issues on which USTR will focus its monitoring and enforcement efforts this year. He did this in his announcement of USTR’s release of the annual Report on the 1377 Review, which also provides information on the operation and effectiveness of telecommunications trade agreements under Section 1377 of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 (1377 Review). The 1377 Review highlights both longstanding and emerging barriers to U.S. telecommunications services and equipment exports, which – when they flow freely – can support jobs here at home. The full report is available here.
 
“Recent years have witnessed a growing trend among our trading partners to impose localization barriers to trade designed to protect, favor, or stimulate domestic industries, service providers, or intellectual property (IP) at the expense of imported goods, services, or foreign-owned or developed IP – and this trend is evident in the telecommunications sector,” said Ambassador Marantis. “This year’s 1377 Review highlights the concern that U.S. equipment manufacturers may be disadvantaged by the growing use of local content requirements in countries such as Brazil, India, and Indonesia. It also outlines a range of other telecom barriers that USTR has spotted and intends to tackle with increased monitoring and enforcement in the coming year. We know that these annual reviews and the follow-up work we do on the identified issues produce results for job-supporting American telecommunications providers and suppliers.”
 
Since the release of last year’s 1377 Review, USTR has achieved progress on key issues in Canada, Mexico, and Israel. Canada passed legislation last year allowing, in certain cases, foreign investments of up to 100 percent in its telecommunications sector. Similarly, in Mexico, the Peña Nieto Administration has moved quickly to introduce legislation removing foreign investment limits in the telecommunications sector. For both countries, these measures could spur new entry and increase the competitiveness of the sector—a long-sought goal of U.S. trade policy that would benefit consumers and businesses in the United States and in those countries. In October 2012, the United States and Israel signed a bilateral telecommunications equipment mutual recognition agreement (MRA) that, once implemented, will permit recognized U.S. laboratories to test telecommunications products for conformity with Israeli technical requirements, and vice versa.
 
In the 2013 1377 Review, new areas of particular concern include developments such as Brazil’s finalization of local content and technology requirements imposed on new mobile wireless licensees, and Pakistan’s institution of a restrictive regime for the termination of international calls into Pakistan, which, although challenged by Pakistani competition authorities, remains in force.
 
Other issues in this year’s 1377 Review focus on a broad range of concerns, including:
 
Cross-Border Data Flows and Internet Enabled Trade in Services: the 1377 Review highlights concerns with restrictions on data access and transfers and the effort USTR has made to address restrictions relating to these issues in ongoing trade fora.
 
Independent and Effective Regulator: the 1377 Review highlights the importance of regulatory impartiality generally as a precondition to meaningful market access, and specific issues encountered in China.
 
Foreign Investment: foreign investment limits, typically in the form of limits on the percentage of equity a foreign firm can control, were widely cited by commenters as a trade-distortive barrier. This year’s 1377 Review focuses on restrictions in China, and progress in Canada and Mexico.
Competition Issues: the 1377 Review highlights problems that competitive telecommunications carriers are encountering in China, Colombia, and Mexico.
 
International Termination Rate Issues: the 1377 Review again highlights the concern regarding increases in the rates foreign telecommunication companies charge U.S. carriers to terminate (i.e., deliver) long-distance calls to customers in those countries (the “termination rate”), resulting in higher costs for U.S. carriers and higher prices for U.S. consumers. In addition to the termination rate regime issue in Pakistan, this year’s 1377 Review focuses on problems in El Salvador, Ghana and Jamaica.
 
Satellite Services Issues: the 1377 Review again highlights impediments U.S. satellite operators face when seeking to serve customers in China and India. These impediments include the requirement to sell satellite capacity exclusively through government-owned suppliers.
 
Submarine Cable System Issues: the 1377 Review highlights positive steps the Government of India took in 2012 to improve access to India’s submarine cable landing stations, but notes the need for India to consider a methodology to eliminate unjustified costs imposed on suppliers.
 
Issues Affecting Telecommunications Equipment Trade: in addition to flagging localization concerns in Brazil, India, and Indonesia, the 1377 Review also discusses the use of equipment standards and conformity assessment procedures (including testing requirements) that act as barriers to entry for U.S. telecommunications equipment, including policies in the following countries: China (onerous security requirements, including use of an indigenous encryption algorithm, redundant testing and non-transparent technical requirements), India (onerous security requirements for the importation of telecommunications network equipment), and China, Brazil, Costa Rica and India (mandatory certification requirements and requirements for local testing).
 
BACKGROUND
 
Section 1377 of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 requires USTR to review compliance by trade partners with trade agreements regarding telecommunications products and services (mainly, WTO and FTA commitments) by March 31 of each year. International trade agreements, including the WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and U.S. free trade agreements, provide rules designed to ensure that companies have reasonable access to telecommunications networks, that competitive conditions are maintained, and that regulators act in a transparent and effective manner. These agreements also address conditions affecting the competitive supply of telecommunications equipment in foreign markets. USTR will continue to use these tools to assist in opening markets to give U.S. companies the ability to supply new and innovative products and services abroad.
 
In its 1377 Review, USTR identifies the most effective bilateral or multilateral fora to monitor, engage, and seek to resolve these issues, and describes ongoing work.
 
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If you have any questions regarding the report and its impact on the telecommunications industry, please contact the TLP team.
 
 

Text-to-911 Standard

The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (“ATIS”) and the Telecommunications Industry Association (“TIA”) have developed a nationwide text-to-911 solution.  The standard supports texting “911” as a short code, “coarse location” information to route text messages to the appropriate public safety answering points (“PSAPs”), and bounce-back messages when text-to-911 is unavailable.  The solution will enable service providers to fully implement text-to-911 by May 15, 2014, the date by which AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile agreed to provide the service.  ATIS and TIA will make the standard available at no charge through June 2013. 

The press release announcing the standard is available here.  If you have any questions regarding text-to-911, please feel free to contact the TLP Team.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Will AT&T and Verizon Acquire Vodafone in a $248 billion Global Deal?

The Financial Times and others are reporting that Verizon and AT&T may team-up to buy Vodafone, the British-based global mobile provider. Apparently, while Verizon would purchase Vodafone's 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless, AT&T would acquire the remainder of Vodafone, which operates in over 70 countries worldwide.

If you have any questions on how this deal may impact the U.S. and global mobile marketplaces, please contact the TLP team.

Senate to Look at the State of Rural Communications at April 9th Hearing

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (headed by Senators Rockefeller (D-WV) and Thune (R-SD)) has announced that its Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet (headed by Senators Pryor (D-AK) and Wicker (R-MS)) has scheduled a hearing entitled the “State of Rural Communications” for 10:30 am EST on April 9, 2013.  The Committee has indicated that the "hearing will examine the current state of rural communications and challenges facing companies serving rural consumers." The witnesses will be John Strode of Ritter Communications, Inc.; Steven Davis of CenturyLink, Inc.; Patricia Jo Boyers of BOYCOM Cablevision, Inc.; Leroy T. Carlson, Jr., of Telephone and Data Systems, Inc. (parent of U.S. Cellular).
 
Based on the 2010 Census figures, fewer than 20 percent of the nation's population of 309 million now live in rural areas (i.e., areas that are not (1) urbanized areas of 50,000 or more people or (2) urban clusters of at least 2,500 and less than 50,000 people). Further, while the overall rural population remained static at 59 million people between 2000 and 2010, the overall urban population grew by about 26 million people during the same decade. In light of this situation, investors are often reluctant to provide private capital to rural communications providers for things like broadband deployment unless there is some type of economic subsidization and competitive/regulatory advantage provided by the Federal government. Accordingly, the Subcommittee members will likely hear the witnesses at the hearing focus on the following issues: Universal Service subsidies, the BTOP and RUS broadband grant programs, intercarrier compensation, the local telephone competition provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and retransmission consent and cable programming costs.

Should you have any questions regarding this hearing as well as any legislation or activity in Congress that could impact the telecommunications, media and technology sectors, please contact Vance Schuemann or any member of the TLP team.

Monday, April 1, 2013

FCC Opens Inquiry On Its Radiofrequency (RF) Exposure Limits and Policies

The FCC released a Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) seeking to determine whether the Commission should reassess its radiofrequency (“RF”) exposure limits and policies.  The NOI requests comment, based on scientific evidence, on (1) the propriety of the Commission’s existing standards and policies, (2) options for precautionary exposure reduction, and (3) improvements to the FCC’s equipment authorization process and policies regarding RF exposure.   

The FCC last evaluated RF limits in 1996, and “as a matter of good government,” it asks whether the limits remain appropriate given subsequent research and various recommendations.  The Commission emphasizes that its “intent is to adequately protect the public without imposing an undue burden on industry.”  The NOI, specifically asks:

  • Whether additional precautions are appropriate for children who use wireless devices;
  • If additional information should be provided to consumers to help them make decisions about reducing their RF exposure;
  • Whether the Commission should require the disclosure of a device’s maximum specific absorption rate in any specific format or location; and
  • If there are specific circumstances where more restrictive RF limits should be applied, and what regulatory uncertainty or unintended consequences those new limits may create;

The FCC released the NOI in the same document as an Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking  (“FNPRM”).  Neither the Order nor the FNPRM change the existing RF exposure limits or have a practical effect on human exposure to RF radiation.  Instead, they consist of “technical, non-substantive changes in how RF exposure is evaluated and how compliance with the existing RF exposure limit is demonstrated.”  

Comments on the NOI will be due 90 days after it is published in the Federal Register, and Reply Comments will be due 150 days after publication.  We will blog these dates once they are known.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions.