Monday, February 22, 2016

Lifeline Revised Rules Take Effect

The information collection requirements in the rules adopted in the Lifeline Second Report and Order and the Order on Reconsideration have been approved by OMB for a period of three years.  This amendments to §§ 54.201, 54.400, 54.401, 54.404, 54.407, 54.410, and 54.417 are deemed effective February 17, 2016 per the Federal Register notice.

Specifically, the following rules will take effect:
  • Updating the definition of eligible telecommunications carriers, direct service, and Lifeline;
  • Updating instructions and number of respondents for FCC Forms 497 and 481;
  • Retaining eligibility documentation for enrollment and dispute resolution;
  • Revising the burden for consumer recertification;
  • Revising FCC Form 555 for annual reporting of subscriber recertification;
  • Requiring a uniform snapshot date for payment of low-income support;
  • Revising the subscriber usage requirement;
  • Requiring marketing and outreach plans;
  • Updating the ETC audit requirements;
  • Allowing electronic signatures for Lifeline subscriber certifications.

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

Thursday, February 18, 2016

FCC Dismisses Petitions for Reconsideration on Specific Broadcast Station Protection

The Commission has released an Order on Reconsideration dismissing and denying the Petitions for Reconsideration submitted by Videohouse, Inc., Abacus Television, WMTM, LLC, and KMYA, LLC.  The Petitions for Reconsideration were seeking reconsideration of the Commission’s decision not to protect their broadcast television stations in the repacking process or make them eligible for the reverse auction.  The Commission found that the petitioners’ claims were both procedurally and substantively defective and denied them on the merits.

The Commission found that the petitioners’ claims failed on substantive grounds because:
  • Petitioners failed to prove that they should be protected like the other groups who filed applications for Class A construction permits (FCC Form 302-CA) before February 22, 2012, even though they had not filed those applications; and
  • Petitioners failed to argue that it was unreasonable for the Commission to limit discretionary repacking protection and auction eligibility to out-of-core Class A-eligible LPTV stations that filed a Form 302-CA application before February 22, 2012, since that was the date Congress established for determining what stations were entitled to repacking protection.

The Commission found that the petitioners’ claims were procedurally improper because, although the Commission raised the question of which broadcast television facilities to protect in the repacking process in the Incentive Auction NPRM, the petitioners did not present facts or arguments as to why their stations should be protected until after the Commission adopted the Report and Order.

In the Order on Reconsideration, the Commission also concludes that WDYB-CD, Daytona Beach, Florida, licensed to Latina Broadcasters of Daytona Beach, LLC is not entitled to discretionary repacking protection or eligible to participate in the reverse auction because Latina was not pursuing Class A status before the Commission as of February 22, 2012.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Monday, February 15, 2016

FCC Announces Spectrum Frontiers Workshop

The FCC has released a Public Notice announcing a workshop to discuss the concepts raised by the Spectrum Frontiers NPRM and the state of technological developments in the mmW bands.  During the workshop, the Office of Engineering and Technology, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, and the International Bureau will be doing demonstrations to illustrate some of the new technologies utilizing the mmW bands. 

The event, which is open to the public, will be held on Thursday, March 10, 2016, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM in the Commission Meeting Room.  It will also be available via webcast at the following link: www.fcc.gov/live.

Please contact us if you have any questions about the NPRM or the workshop.

FCC Releases February 18 Open Meeting Agenda

The FCC has released the following agenda for the February Open Meeting, scheduled for Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 10:30 am:
  • Promoting the Availability of Diverse and Independent Sources of Video Programming: The Commission will consider a Notice of Inquiry that seeks comment on the current state of programming diversity and the principal obstacles that independent programmers face in obtaining carriage on video distribution platforms.
  • Expanding Consumers’ Video Navigation Choices; Commercial Availability of Navigation Devices (CS Docket No. 97-80): The Commission will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks comment on a framework for providing innovators, device manufacturers and app developers the information they need to develop new technologies to access video content.
  • Closed Captioning of Video Programming (CG Docket No. 05-231); Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. Petition for Rulemaking: The Commission will consider a Second Report and Order that allocates responsibilities for the delivery of closed captions on video programming and the handling of captioning complaints.
The Commission will also consider several items as consent agenda.  The meeting may be streamed at www.fcc.gov/live.

Friday, February 12, 2016

FCC Releases Public Notice Regarding Consumer Signal Booster Information

The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau has released a Public Notice reminding nationwide wireless service providers of their obligation to release information regarding consumer signal boosters.  In February 2013, the Commission adopted new technical, operational and registration requirements for Signal Boosters in the Signal Boosters Report and Order.  Pursuant to these rules, nationwide wireless service providers must publicly indicate their status regarding consent for each Consumer Signal Booster that has received Commission certification by March 9, 2016.  The Consumer Signal Boosters that have received Commission certification are listed in Attachment 1 of the Public Notice.  

As you may recall from the Report and Order, any carrier that voluntarily consents to the use of consumer signal boosters is required to create a registration system within 90 days from the date of its consent that its subscribers could use to register their signal boosters.  However, only nationwide wireless providers are required to publicly indicate their consent status for each consumer signal booster approved by the FCC.

Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

FCC Releases Forward Auction Sample Data File Specifications

The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau released a Public Notice announcing that it has made available specifications for Auction System data file formats for the assignment phase of the Forward Auction (Auction 1002).  These specifications set forth the file formats in which information related to the bidding results will be made available to qualified bidders.  The Commission encourages prospective forward auction bidders to review the sample data files, which provide:
  • an overall description of each file;
  • the data fields that are included;
  • definitions of the data elements in each field;
  • the data type;
  • examples; and
  • notes about the file.
The Public Notice emphasizes that the sample data files are for illustrative purposes and do not reflect any predictions or assumptions about the actual bidding in the Auction.

Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

FCC Sets Deadline for Commencing Operations R&O Petitions for Reconsideration

The FCC has released a Public Notice establishing the deadline for Petitions for Reconsideration to the Commencing Operations Report and Order.  

The Report and Order, released October 22, 2015, defined when and where 600 MHz Band wireless licensees will be deemed to “commence operations” for the purpose of establishing when the secondary and unlicensed users must cease operations and vacate the 600 MHz Band.  

The Report and Order was published in the Federal Register on January 29, 2016, making the deadline to file petitions February 29, 2016.

Please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.

FCC Form 477 Due on March 1

The FCC Form 477 Broadband Report due date of March 1st is quickly approaching.  The purpose of the report is to provide the FCC with information regarding broadband connections to end-user locations and the data obtained from this form will be used to describe the deployment of broadband infrastructure and competition to provide local telecommunications services.  Form 477 must be submitted by: (i) facilities-based providers of broadband connections to end-user locations; (ii) providers of wired or fixed wireless local exchange telephone service; (iii) providers of interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service; and (iv) facilities-based providers of mobile telephony services.

The data supplied must be current as of December 31, 2015.  Failure to timely file Form 477 reports may result in enforcement action, including monetary penalties. 

Form 477 is required to be filed electronically, and the filing can be made using the interface at https://apps2.fcc.gov/form477/login.xhtml.  The user guide for this interface can be accessed here.  You can also find the instruction manual for completing Form 477 here.  In addition, further instructions, tutorials and information on the using the Form 477 electronic filing system are available at http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/form-477-resources-filers.  

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions regarding the Form 477 filing.

CPNI Reports Due March 1, 2016

All telecommunications and interconnected VoIP providers must file an annual Customer Proprietary Network Information (“CPNI”) report for calendar year 2015 by March 1, 2016.  The CPNI reports certify that telecommunications providers are in compliance with the Commission’s CPNI rules.

The FCC’s CPNI rules protect the security of personal data, like phone numbers and call log information, that consumers disclose to their service providers as a result of their business relationships.  The rules require telecommunications providers to establish and maintain systems that protect this CPNI.  The rules also require providers to file an annual certification that documents (1) their compliance with the rules, (2) complaints they received from consumers regarding CPNI, and (3) actions they took against data brokers.  The FCC intends to strictly enforce its CPNI rules, and if a telecommunications provider fails to comply with the rules or the certification requirement, then the Commission may impose a forfeiture of up to $160,000 for each violation, or each day of a continuing violation, up to a maximum fine of $1,575,000.  

The Commission has released an Enforcement Advisory, which contains Frequently Asked Questions, a draft CPNI certification template, and the full text of the CPNI rules.  These documents may assist your completion of the CPNI report and may be helpful to review.

You can file your certification online at http://apps.fcc.gov/eb/CPNI. 
   
Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.

Wireless Bureau Dismisses TMO Petition Regarding DISH Entities Former Defaulter Status

The Wireless Bureau has released an Order dismissing two petitions for reconsideration of the Incentive Auction Applications Procedures Public Notice filed by PBP Group et al. and  T-Mobile. The PBP Group Petition sought reconsideration of the eligibility requirements for the rural service provider bidding credit, and the T-Mobile Petition requested that the FCC declare that DISH, Northstar and SNR as “former defaulters” under the FCC’s rules, in the alternative, T-Mobile requested a Declaratory Ruling.  

T-Mobile’s Petition and subsequent filings argued that Northstar and SNR selectively defaulted on certain AWS-3 licenses after they were denied small bidding credits, which deprived competitors of the spectrum and allowed DISH to reap the economic benefits.  In subsequent filings, T-Mobile recognized that the FCC need not reconsider the Incentive Auction Applications Procedures Public Notice to provide the relief requested.  In this Order, the Bureau finds that T-Mobile’s requests are outside the scope of the Incentive Auction Applications Procedures Public Notice and therefore dismisses its Petition as procedurally defective.  The Bureau further notes that even if T-Mobile wanted to seek reconsideration of the Memorandum Order and Opinion that addressed the DISH entities’ actions, T-Mobile did not file a Petition to Deny or otherwise participate in the proceeding so it would lack standing to challenge the determination, and even if it had participated, its Petition would have been untimely.

The Bureau also finds that a declaratory ruling in this situation would be inappropriate, and denies T-Mobile’s request for a declaratory ruling.  The Bureau notes that a declaratory ruling may be issued to terminate a controversy or remove uncertainty, however at this point, it is unknown whether DISH will participate in the Forward Auction, and therefore “the controversy is of T-Mobile’s own making.”  The Bureau further notes that even if it were inclined to issue a declaratory ruling on individual applications prior to the auction short-form deadline, it would not do so here because T-Mobile requests the FCC apply the rule to the DISH entities even though the former defaulter rule does not address the conduct of which T-Mobile complains. 

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Updated Reserve-Eligible Nationwide Providers list

The Wireless Bureau has released an updated list of reserve-eligible nationwide service providers in each PEA for the Incentive Auction.  These updates reflect recently approved transactions and certain corrections requested by Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile.  PEAs that have been updated are marked on the List with an asterisk.

Please let us know if you have any questions. 

FCC Releases 2016 Broadband Progress Report

At the January Open Meeting, the Commission adopted the 2016 Broadband Progress Report.  A summary of the Report has been provided for you below:

2016 Broadband Progress Report 

In last year’s report, the Commission found that “advanced telecommunications capability” requires actual download speeds of at least 25 Mbps and actual upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps.  For schools and classrooms, the Commission retained its short term benchmark of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students/staff.  In the 2016 Broadband Progress Report, the Commission retains both of these benchmarks, and declines to set a local fixed mobile speed benchmark, at this time. (¶ 58).  The Commission also declines to adopt non-speed performance benchmarks, stating that doing so would be “premature.” (¶ 63).  The Commission relies upon the new Form 477 information for its mobile and fixed findings. (¶ 75).

Although the Commission declines to establish benchmarks for mobile service, the Report does recognize the important role that mobile broadband plays in Americans’ lives.  The Report finds that “fixed and mobile broadband are not functional substitutes, and that both services provide necessary components of advanced telecommunications capability.”  (¶ 12).  Although the Commission has “substantially increased” its collection of mobile data through the revised Form 477 collection, there is still significant disagreement within the telecommunications community as to the appropriate means of measuring mobile deployment.  Ultimately, the Report determines that the availability of advanced telecommunications capability requires access to both fixed and mobile services.

The 2016 Report concludes that, although “progress has been made in promoting competition and removing barriers to infrastructure investment,” (¶ 139) advanced telecommunications capability is not being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.  (¶ 119).  Accordingly, the Commission finds that approximately 34 million Americans still lack access to fixed 25 Mbps/3 Mbps broadband or higher service.  (¶ 120).  With regard to schools and classrooms, approximately 59 percent of schools have met the Commission’s short-term goal of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students. (¶ 123).  

Mobile Service findings of the 2016 Broadband Progress Report

  • As noted above, the Report finds that fixed and mobile broadband are both critically important services that provide different and complementary capabilities, and are tailored to serve different consumer needs.  Therefore, consumers must have access to both fixed and mobile services in order to have advanced telecommunications capability.
  • Based upon the new Form 477 information, the Commission determines that 1.7 million of Americans do not have access to a mobile provider using LTE technology, and that 171.5 million of Americans do not have access to a mobile service provider with a LTE technology service with a minimum advertised speed of 10 Mbps/1 Mbps. (¶¶ 82-83).  For rural areas, the numbers are 1.5 and 52.2 million of Americans, respectively.  For urban areas, the numbers are 163,000 and 119.3 million, respectively.  (¶ 83).
  • Through its reliance on data obtained through the Mobile Measuring Broadband American program (mMBA), which crowdsources data from a mobile app, the Commission determines that median LTE download speeds for the first two quarters of 2015 are 11.6, 7.5, 5 and 13.6 megabits per second for Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, respectively. (¶ 110-11).
  • The Commission also finds through the mMBA that during the second half of 2014 and first half of 2015, Verizon had the lowest mean latency during this period, followed by AT&T, T-Mobile and then Sprint. (¶ 113).
  • Using July 2015 data, the Commission estimates that 99.6% of the U.S. population is covered by at least one carrier with LTE, but concludes that the methodology and data used to report this coverage has the potential to overstate it. (¶ 112).
  • The International Bureau finds the United States ranked 8th out of 34 “Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development” (“OECD”) countries in mobile broadband subscriptions, with 104 mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. (¶ 118).  This number has shifted since 2013, when the United States ranked 7th, with 94.2 mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. (¶ 118).

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Monday, February 1, 2016

FCC Releases Tentative Agenda for February Open Meeting

The FCC has announced the following tentative agenda for the next Open Meeting, scheduled for Thursday, February 18, 2016:

Promoting Diverse and Independent Programming: The Commission will consider a Notice of Inquiry that seeks comment on the current state of programming diversity and the principal obstacles that independent programmers face in obtaining carriage on video distribution platforms. 

Expanding Consumer Choice: The Commission will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks comment on a framework for providing innovators, device manufacturers and app developers the information they need to develop new technologies to access video content.

Please let us know if you have any questions.