Monday, December 28, 2015

Annual HAC Status Reports Due January 15, 2016

The Annual Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC) Status Reports (FCC Form 655) filing is due on January 15, 2016 for the reporting period of January 1, 2015 – December 31, 2015.  The filing system is accessible through the Commission's Universal Licensing System (ULS) here. Filers may access the system through ULS using their regular FCC Registration Number (FRN) and password.  The updated HAC rules recently adopted in the Fourth Report and Order have not yet become effective, so the 2016 filing should largely resemble prior process and reports.  

Handset Offering Requirements

Wireless service providers are permitted to meet either one of two HAC compliance safe harbors.  First, providers may certify that they have a minimum of 10 handset models that have an M3 or better rating and 10 handset models that have a T3 or better rating.  Alternatively, providers may certify that at least 50 percent of the handsets that they offer have an M3 or better rating, and that at least one-third of the handsets offered have a T3 or better rating.  Note also that there is a de minimis exception to the HAC requirements for carriers that offer two or fewer handset models to customers in a particular air interface (e.g., GSM, CDMA) for less than two years.  However, very few wireless carriers fall within this exemption.

Labeling Requirements

Service providers are also subject to public website and labeling requirements.  The HAC rules require that packages containing hearing aid-compatible handsets must be explicitly labeled and must include detailed information in the package or product manual, with the M and/or T rating clearly displayed.  And, all handsets with Wi-Fi capabilities must also include a label disclosing that the handset has not been rated for hearing aid compatibility with respect to Wi-Fi operation.  Wireless service providers also must offer a means for consumers to test hearing aid-compatible handsets in their owned or operated retail stores.

In addition, all carriers that operate a publicly-accessible website must have available on that website a list of all currently-available hearing aid compatible handsets.  The list must include their M or T ratings as well as the level of “functionality.”  Service providers are permitted to develop their own “functionality” ratings for display and reporting purposes.  This functionality rating might divide phones into categories such as Basic Handset, Feature Phone and Smartphone, for example.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions regarding the HAC report or the filing system. Should you require our assistance in filing this report, please let us know no later than the close of business on Friday, January 8, 2016.

Friday, December 25, 2015

FCC Releases Supplemental Information Regarding Incentive Auction

The Commission released a Public Notice providing updates and other supplemental information on the Incentive Auction.  Specifically, the Public Notice announces that the pre-auction process tutorial for the forward auction will be available by January 19, 2016 and further provides:
  • additional information concerning access to the Commission’s bidding system (“Auction System”) for the reverse and forward auctions;
    • Authorized bidders for both the Forward and Reverse Auction participants will be mailed a SecurID token, similar to previous auctions.  Forward auction applicants with “complete” applications must use this token to participate in the mock auction. 
  • additional details about the grouping of Partial Economic Areas (“PEAs”) in the assignment phase of the forward auction; and 
    • Attachment 1 to the Public Notice (starting on Page 5 of the filing) lists each PEA ad the REAG with which it will be associated for assignment phase bidding purposes.
  • typographical changes to two of the appendices released with the Auction 1000 Application Procedures Public Notice.

let us know if you have any questions or would like any additional information.

Monday, December 21, 2015

FCC Extends Open Internet Small Provider Exemption

The Consumer and Government Affairs Bureau (the “Bureau”) has released a Report and Order (“Order”) regarding the temporary exemption for small broadband Internet access service providers from the enhancements to the Open Internet transparency rule, as adopted in the 2015 Open Internet Order.  In this Order, the Bureau concludes that “at this time it cannot fully evaluate the impact of removing the temporary exemption” and therefore extends the temporary exemption for smaller providers until December 15, 2016.  

This exemption covers providers with 100,000 or fewer broadband connections, as per their most recent Form 477, aggregated over all of the providers’ affiliates.  Providers that are obligated to file Form 477 that do not fulfill their obligation to timely file such information will be ineligible for the exemption, regardless of whether they meet the threshold.  Providers that are not required to file a Form 477 can avail themselves of the exemption by demonstrating that they served 100,000 or fewer broadband connections aggregated over all of the providers’ affiliates at the relevant time should any complaint arise. 

Please let us know if you have any questions. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

FCC Releases Agenda for December 17 Open Meeting

The Commission has released the following agenda for the December 17 Open Meeting:

Petition of US Telecom for Forbearance Pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 160 (c) from Enforcement of Obsolete ILEC Legacy Regulations That Inhibit Deployment of Next- Generation Networks (WC Docket No. 14-192): The Commission will consider a Memorandum Opinion and Order addressing a petition from US Telecom that seeks forbearance from various categories of statutory and Commission requirements applicable to incumbent local exchange carriers.

Amendment of Parts 73 and 74 of the Commission’s Rules to Establish Rules for Digital Low Power Television and Television Translator Stations (MB Docket No. 03-185); Expanding the Economic and Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum Through Incentive Auctions (GN Docket No. 12-268); Amendment of Part 15 of the Commission’s Rules to Eliminate the Analog Turner Requirement (ET Docket No. 14-175): The Commission will consider a Third Report and Order that extends the deadline for LPTV and TV Translator Stations to Transition to Digital and adopts measures to mitigate the impact of incentive auction displacement. The Fourth Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks comment on channel sharing issues between certain stations.

Comprehensive Review of Licensing and Operating Rules for Satellite Services (IB Docket No. 12-267): The Commission will consider a Second Report and Order that streamlines, eliminates or updates numerous provisions of Part 25 of the Commission's rules governing licensing and operation of space stations and earth stations for the provision of satellite communication services.

In addition, the Commission will hear a presentation on the outcomes of the 2015 International Telecommunication Union’s World Radio Conference, and will consider several items as a consent agenda that will not be presented individually.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 10:30 am and may be streamed at 

Please contact us if you have any questions. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

FCC Revises the Short-Form Filing Windows

The filing windows for the reverse and short-form auction have been delayed, and accordingly the anti-collusion trigger dates have also been pushed back: 
  • The filing window for the reverse auction will open at 12:00 noon Eastern Time on December 8, 2015, and close at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time on January 12, 2016.  On this date, the reverse auction anti-collusion rule will go into effect.
  • The filing window for the forward auction open at 12:00 noon Eastern Time on January 26, 2016 and close at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time on February 9, 2016. On this date, the forward auction anti-collusion rule will go into effect.
The Commission released a Public Notice revising Appendix I of the Auction 1000 Application Procedures Public Notice: the baseline data and opening prices for the reverse auction.  The revisions correct information for a small number of stations, and adjust population data for stations that are affected by the Commissions corrections.  The constraint files will be updated to reflect these corrections and adjustments. 

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Friday, December 4, 2015

FCC Denies DISH AWS-3 Bidding Credits

The FCC has released a Memorandum Opinion and Order (“Order”) denying over $3 billion in small business credits claimed by DISH’s small business partners, Northstar Wireless, LLC (“Northstar”) and SNR Wireless LicenseCO, LLC (“SNR”) in Auction 97 (the “AWS-3 Auction”).  Northstar and SNR each asserted that it had less than $15 million in gross revenues over the past three years and therefore qualified as a “very small business” under the Auction 97 rules, which would entitle each of them to a 25% discount off the amount of their gross winning bids.  DISH holds an 85% equity interest in each Northstar and SNR.

The Order determines that DISH has de facto control over and the power to control Northstar and SNR, and therefore the average gross revenues of DISH over the past three years (over $13 billion) must also be attributed to both Northstar and SNR while evaluating their eligibility for the small business bidding credits.  Accordingly, Northstar and SNR do not qualify as “very small businesses.”

Notably, the FCC does not find that Northstar’s or SNR’s bidding activity violated the FCC’s rules that governed Auction 97, as it determines that both parties adequately disclosed their agreements and bidding arrangements with the FCC.  The Order directs Northstar and SNR to pay the full gross amount of their winning bids in Auction 97.  Once the full payment is received, the Wireless Bureau is directed to process their applications for the AWS-3 licenses.

It has been reported that DISH is “respectfully disappointed” in this decision, and will “consider [its] options going forward”.  Such options could include: paying the additional $3 billion for the licenses, refusing to purchase the spectrum and paying a penalty; or pursuing an appeal of the Commission’s order.

Please contact us if you have any questions or would like additional information.

FCC Releases Pole Attachment Order

The FCC has released an Order on Reconsideration in response to a Petition for Reconsideration or Clarification of the 2011 Pole Attachment Order filed by NCTA.  In the Order on Reconsideration, the FCC takes action to keep pole attachment rates united and low in order to further its overarching goal to accelerate deployment of broadband by removing barriers to infrastructure investment and promoting competition.

Specifically, the FCC takes the following actions in the Order on Reconsideration:
  • Adopts NCTA’s proposal to broaden the use of cost allocators in the telecom rate formula by adding the following cost allocators for poles with 2 and 4 attaching entities (current cost allocators cover poles with 3 (0.44 percent of costs) and 5 (0.66 percent of costs) attaching entities):
    • For poles with 2 attaching entities:  0.31 percent of costs
    • For poles with 4 attaching entities:  0.56 percent of costs
  • Concludes that when the average number of attaching entities is a fraction, the percentage cost allocator will be located between the whole numbers at the point where it most closely approximates the cost used in the cable rate formula. 

This Order will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Please contact us if you have any questions or would like additional information.