Friday, November 25, 2016

FCC Requests Comments on Outage Part 4 Rules



A Notice and Request for Comments was published in the Federal Register, requesting comment on the information collections related to the adopted Outage Part 4 rules requirements, pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act (“PRA”).  The Commission currently estimates that the time per response is two hours, and will be required “on occasion” pursuant to annual reporting requirements, recordkeeping requirements and third party disclosure requirements.  The Commission also estimates that there will be 798 respondents and 13,012 responses, which is equivalent to over 16 responses per respondent.  The Commission estimates that there is no cost associated with this information collection and there is no impact on the Privacy Act.  

The Commission is seeking comment on whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission, including whether the information shall have practical utility; the accuracy of the burden estimate; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on the respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and ways to further reduce the information collection burden on small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.

Comments are due December 22, 2016 and must be submitted via email to Kimberly_R_Keravuori@omb.eop.gov AND to PRA@fcc.gov AND to Nicole.Ongele@fcc.gov.

Please contact us if you have any questions. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

FCC Requests Comments on Submarine Cable Outage Burdens


A Notice and Request for Comments was published in the Federal Register, requesting comment on the information collections related to the recently-adopted Submarine Outage Reporting requirements, pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act (“PRA”).  The Commission currently estimates that the time per response is two hours, and the estimated frequency of responses for each respondent is .79 reports per year.   The Commission also estimates that there is no cost associated with this information collection and there is no impact on the Privacy Act.

The Commission is seeking comment on the accuracy of these burden estimates, as well as, whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission, whether the information will have practical utility; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on the respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and ways to further reduce the information collection burden on small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.

Comments are due January 17, 2017 and must be submitted via email to PRA@fcc.gov and to Nicole.Ongele@fcc.gov.  

Please contact us if you would like any additional information. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

November Open Meeting Agenda Released


The Commission announced the Agenda for the November Open Meeting on Thursday, November 17, 2016, beginning at 10:30 am.  The Commission will consider the following:

  • Universal Service Reform - Mobility Fund - The Commission will consider a Report and Order that would adopt rules for the second phase of the Mobility Fund, which would provide ongoing universal service support dedicated to expanding the availability of mobile broadband networks.  The Chairman released a fact sheet and blog post summarizing his proposals on this item.

  • Roaming Obligations of Commercial Mobile Service Providers and a Regulatory Classification of Voice over LTE Service – The Commission will consider a NPRM that would seek comment on proposals to implement a unified roaming standard and to classify Voice over LTE.  The Chairman’s fact sheet also covers data roaming and the VoLTE NPRM proposals.

  • Business Data Services in an Internet Protocol Environment – The Commission will consider a Report and Order and Second FNPRM that would allow for light-touch regulation of packet-based Business Data Services and retain and update price cap regulation for lower-bandwidth TDM-based Business Data Services to ensure that lack of competition does not unfairly harm commercial customers or the consumers who rely upon these services.

  • Video Description: Implementation of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 – The Commission will consider a Report and Order which addresses the amount of video described programming required to be made available to consumers.  

The Commission will also consider two consent agenda items that will not be presented individually.

The November 17th meeting can be streamed live here: www.fcc.gov/live

Please contact us with any questions.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

FCC Releases Public Notice Seeking Comment on 2016 Biennial Reivew of Telecommunications Regulations


The Commission released a Public Notice (“Notice”) seeking comment in its 2016 Biennial Review of Telecommunications Regulations.  Section 11 of the Communications Act requires the Commission to biennially review its regulations that apply to telecommunications services and “determine whether any such regulation is no longer necessary in the public interest as the result of meaningful economic competition between providers of such service.”  The Commission is directed to repeal or modify any regulation that it finds is no longer in the public interest.

Submissions should specifically identify the rule(s) that the commenting party believes should be modified or repealed, and explain why or how, and explain how the suggested change satisfies the Section 11 standard.  Note that separate pleadings must be filed with each Bureau or Office that has jurisdiction over the applicable rule, as identified in the Notice attachments.  Several of the rule parts included in the Notice may be relevant, including but not limited to:
  • Access to Telecommunications Service and Equipment by Persons with Disabilities (CGB; Part 6)
  • Filing of Formal and Informal Complaints (EB; Parts 1 & 8) 
  • HAC Compliance (CGB; Part 20)
  •  Outage Reporting (PS; Part 4)
  •  WEA (PS; Part 10)
  •  E911 (PS; Parts 12 & 20)
  •  Open Internet (WCB; Part 8)
  •  Universal Service (WCB; Part 54)
  •  Various rules under the jurisdiction of the Wireless Bureau
Comments are due December 5, 2016.
Reply Comments are due January 3, 2017.

Please contact us if you would like any additional information.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Wireless Emergency Alerts Report and Order Published in the Federal Register


The Commission’s Report and Order adopting revisions to the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) rules was published in the Federal Register, setting effective dates for the following rules: 

  •  Removal of the prohibition on the use of embedded references (§ 10.440); rules surrounding periodic C interface, WEA PSAs; and the amendment to the prohibition of false or deceptive EAS transmissions (§§10.350(b), 10.520(d), and 11.45, respectively) are effective December 1, 2016.
  •  Amendments to geographic targeting (§ 10.450) are effective November 1, 2017 for non-nationwide providers; and January 3, 2017 for nationwide providers. 
  •  Rules requiring supporting embedded references (§ 10.441) are effective November 1, 2017
  •  Rules adding Spanish language support (§ 10.480) are effective November 1, 2018
  •  Rules amending subscribers’ right to opt out of WEA notifications, classification, prioritization, character limits, call preemption prohibition, and state and local WEA testing (§§ 10.280, 10.400, 10.410, 10.430, 10.510, and 10.350(c), respectively) are effective May 1, 2019
  •  Rules amending provider alert logging requirements (§ 10.320(g)) are subject to OMB approval and will be effective 60 days after publication of such approval in the Federal Register for nationwide providers and within two years of approval for non-nationwide providers.

As a reminder, the FCC adopted a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the September Open Meeting seeking to “improve the utility” of Wireless Emergency Alerts (“WEA”) as a life-saving tool.  In the Report and Order, the FCC adopts rules focused on improving WEA, including improving the content and delivery of Alert Messages, and creating a framework that will allow emergency managers to test, exercise and raise public awareness about WEA.  The Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“FNPRM”) seeks comment on new opportunities to improve WEA’s multimedia, multilingual and geo-targeting capabilities, and to improve consumer choice about WEA and increasing the transparency of the WEA system.  A summary of the item is attached.

The Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking has not yet been published in the Federal Register, and therefore the comment dates are still pending.

Please contact us if you would like any additional information. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Telecommunications Law Professionals Ranked in 2017 U.S. News - Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms"



Telecommunications Law Professionals has been ranked in the 2017 U.S. News - Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms" list nationally in one practice area and regionally in two practice areas.  Firms included in the 2017 "Best Law Firms” list are recognized for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique 
combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.
 
 Telecommunications Law Professionals received the following rankings in the 2017 U.S. News – Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms":

  • National Tier 1
    • Communications Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 1
    • Washington DC
      • Communications Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 2
    • Washington DC
      • Corporate Law
The 2017 Edition of "Best Law Firms” includes rankings in 74 national practice areas and 122 metropolitan-based practice areas.  Ranked firms, presented in tiers, are listed on a national and/or metropolitan scale. Receiving a tier designation reflects the high level of respect a firm has earned among other leading lawyers and clients in the same communities and the same practice areas for their abilities, their professionalism and their integrity.
Feel free to contact us with any questions.

FCC Adopts Privacy Rules at October Open Meeting


At the October Open Meeting, the Commission adopted rules that require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to protect consumer privacy under Section 222 of the Communications Act.  According to a Press Release, the rules establish a framework of customer consent required for ISPs to use and share their customers’ personal information that is consistent with the frameworks of the FTC and the Administration’s Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.

The Commission also released an updated Fact Sheet summarizing the adopted rules governing ISPs and consumer data.  The Fact Sheet explicitly states that rules “reflect careful
consideration of the needs of smaller ISPs.”  For instance, “small providers” are afforded and additional 12 months to come into compliance with the Notice and “Choice” requirements.  The Order has not yet been released, but the Fact Sheet provides the following overview:

  • Clear Notice: Collection, Use, and Sharing of Customer Information
    • Notifications:
      • Notify customers about what types of information the ISP collects about its customers;
      • Specify how and for what purposes the ISP uses and shares this information; and
      • Identify the types of entities with which the ISP shares this information.
    • Immediate and persistent notification.  ISPs must provide this information upfront and with significant privacy policy changes, and it must be viewable on the ISP’s website or mobile app.
    • Multi-stakeholder approach.  Directs the Consumer Advisory Committee (CAC) to develop a standardized notice format that will be voluntary and serve as a “safe-harbor” for the providers who choose to adopt it.

  • Consent Requirements: Use of Personal Information Based on Sensitivity (“Consumer Choice”)
    • Opt-In:  ISPs will be required to obtain “opt-in” consent to use and share sensitive information.  The following information will be considered “sensitive,” including:
      • Web browsing & app usage history; Precise geo-location; Children’s information; Health information; Financial information; Social security numbers; the content of communication.
    • Opt-out:  Use and sharing of non-sensitive information (all other individually identifiable customer information) would be subject to opt-out consent requirements in most cases.
    • Exceptions:  Consumer consent is inferred for certain purposes, including:
      • Use and sharing of non-sensitive information to provide and market services and equipment typically marketed with the broadband service subscribed to by the customer;
      • To provide the broadband service, and bill and collect for the service;
      • To protect the broadband provider and its customers from fraudulent use of the provider’s network.

  • Protections for De-Identified Information
    • The rules allow ISPs to use and share properly de-identified information outside the consent regime, if it meets the FTC’s three part test to ensure that customer information is not re-identified:
      • 1. Alter the customer information so it can’t be reasonably linked to a specific individual or device;
      • 2. Publicly commit to maintain and use information in an unidentifiable format and to not attempt to re-identify the data;
      • 3. Contractually prohibit the re-identification of shared information.

  • Protection of Customer Information – ISPs must take reasonable measures to protect customer data.  The Order provides the following guidelines, rather than requirements, on how ISPs should do this:
    • Implement updated and relevant industry best practices;
    • Provide appropriate accountability and oversight of its security practices;
    • Implement robust customer authentication tools;
    • Properly dispose of data consistent with FTC best practices and the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.

  • Data-Breach Notification Requirements.  In the event of a breach, ISPs would be required to notify:
    • Affected customers of breaches of their data as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days after reasonable determination of a breach;
    • The Commission at the same time as customers first notified of breaches (i.e., 30 days) affecting fewer than 5,000 customers; and  
    • The Commission, FBI, and the U.S. Secret Service of breaches affecting 5,000 or more customers no later than 7 business days after reasonable determination of the breach.

  • Implementation Timeline:
    • Data security requirements – 90 days after publication in the Federal Register.
    • Data breach notification requirements – effective approximately 6 months after publication in the Federal Register.
    • Notice and Choice requirements – effective approximately 12 months after publication in the Federal Register.  Small providers have an additional 12 months to comply.

  • Miscellaneous
    • Prohibits “Take-it-or-Leave-It” Offers – an ISP can’t refuse to serve customers who don’t consent to the use and sharing of the information for commercial purposes.
    • Heightens Consumer Protections for Financial Incentives – the rules require heightened disclosure for plans that provide discounts or other incentives in exchange for consent.  The Commission will review these programs on a case-by-case basis.
    • Harmonization of Broadband and Voice Rules – the new rules also apply to voice services and treat call-detail record information as sensitive information in the context of voice services.
    • Dispute Resolution – the Commission intends to proceed with a rulemaking in February 2017 to address mandatory arbitration requirements in contracts for communications services.

  • The Rules do NOT:
    • Regulate the privacy practices of websites or apps, like Twitter or Facebook.
    • Regulate other services of broadband providers, like operation of a social media website.
    • Address issues like government surveillance, encryption, or law enforcement.

Please feel free to contact us if you would like any additional information. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

October Open Meeting Agenda Released


The FCC has released the following agenda for the October 27th, 2016 Open Commission Meeting:

Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services Alerts (WC Docket No. 16-106): The Commission will consider a Report and Order that applies the privacy requirements of the Communications Act to broadband Internet access service providers and other telecommunications services to provide broadband customers with the tools they need to make informed decisions about the use and sharing of their information by their broadband providers.

Locus Telecommunications, Inc.: The Commission will consider a Memorandum Opinion and Order that dismisses and denies a Petition for Reconsideration of a Forfeiture Order issued by the Commission for the deceptive marketing of prepaid calling cards.

Lyca Tel, LLC: The Commission will consider a Memorandum Opinion and Order that dismisses and denies a Petition for Reconsideration of a Forfeiture Order issued by the Commission for the deceptive marketing of prepaid calling cards.

Touch-Tel USA, LLC: The Commission will consider a Memorandum Opinion and Order that dismisses and denies a Petition for Reconsideration of a Forfeiture Order issued by the Commission for the deceptive marketing of prepaid calling cards.

NobelTel, LLC: The Commission will consider a Memorandum Opinion and Order that dismisses and denies a Petition for Reconsideration of a Forfeiture Order issued by the Commission for the deceptive marketing of prepaid calling cards.

The Commission will also consider a number of consent agenda items and personnel actions. 

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 10:30 am and may be streamed at www.fcc.gov/live.

Please contact us with any questions.  


Clearing Target and Bidding Schedule Set for Stage 3 of Incentive Auction



The Incentive Auction Task Force (“Task Force”) and the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (“Bureau”) released a Public Notice providing details on Stage 3 of the Incentive Auction.  Notably, the Notice announces a 108 MHz spectrum clearing target for Stage 3 and schedules reverse bidding to begin at 10:00 am on November 1.  

Forward Auction Implications:   Under the clearing target of 108 MHz for Stage 3, 80 MHz, or 8 paired blocks, of licensed spectrum will be offered in the forward auction on a near-nationwide basis.  The generic license blocks offered in the forward auction under this band plan will consist of a total of 3,301 Category 1 blocks (zero to 15% impairment) and two Category 2 blocks (greater than 15% and up to 50 % impairment).  Approximately 99.9% of the blocks offered will be Category 1, and 99.9% of Category 1 blocks will be zero percent impaired.  Appendix A to the Public Notice indicates the types of blocks available in each PEA.

The Commission will release the initial bidding schedule for Stage 3 of the forward auction in the PRS on the next business day after Stage 3 of the reverse auction concludes.  Stage 3 bidding in the forward auction will begin no later than three days after that announcement is released.  Any bidder that is eligible to bid in Stage 3 of the forward auction can access the Forward Auction Bidding System beginning at 10:00 a.m. ET on October 31st, 2016, using the same materials received prior to the start of Stage 1.  

Starting in the Round 1 of Stage 3, each bidder must be active on at least 95 percent of its bidding eligibility to maintain its bidding eligibility for the next round.  Any changes to the activity requirement in subsequent rounds will be announced via the Forward Auction Bidding System.  In addition, five percent increments will be used to set clock prices for Round 1 of Stage 3 of the forward auction.

Please contact us if you would like any further information.