Monday, January 30, 2017

FCC Releases January Open Meeting Agenda and New and Continuing Agency Appointments



The Commission announced the Agenda for the January Open Meeting on Tuesday, January 31, 2017.  The Commission will consider the following:

  • Revisions to Public Inspection File Requirements – Broadcaster Correspondence File and Cable Principal Headend Location – The Commission will consider a Report and Order that would eliminate the requirement that commercial broadcast stations retain copies of letters and emails from the public in their public inspection file and the requirement that cable operators retain the location of the cable system’s principal headend in their public inspection file. The Commission will also consider General Counsel and Media actions as a consent agenda that will not be presented individually.

The January 31st meeting is scheduled to begin at 10:30 am and can be streamed live here: www.fcc.gov/live

Additionally, Chairman Pai announced a number of new and continuing appointments to Bureaus and Offices within the Commission.  Notably, Pai announced Nese Guendelsberger as the Acting Chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (“WTB”).  Guendelsberger most recently served as the Deputy Bureau chief in the International Bureau, but has previously worked in the WTB and Wireline Competition Bureau as well.  

Other new appointments are as follows:
  • Michelle Carey, Acting Chief of the Media Bureau
  • Michael Carowitz, Acting Chief of the Enforcement Bureau
  • Lisa Fowlkes, Acting Chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
  • Kris Monteith, Acting Chief of the Wireless Competition Bureau
  • Tom Sullivan, Acting Chief of the International Bureau 
  • Wayne A. Leighton, Acting Director of the Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis
  • Timothy Stachan, Acting Director of the Office of Legislative Affairs 

Chairman Pai announced the following continuing appointments:
  • Allison Kutler, Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
  • Julius Knapp, Chief Engineer
  • Mark Stephens, Managing Director
  • Gary Epstein, Director of the Incentive Auction Task Force
  • Sanford Williams, Acting Director of the Office of Communications Business Opportunities
  • Mark Wigfield, Acting Director of the Office of Media Relations
  • Larry Hudson, Acting Director of the Office of Workplace Diversity
Please feel free to contact us with any questions. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Commissioner Ajit Pai Designated as FCC Chairman



Commissioner Ajit Pai has been designated Chairman of the FCC by President Trump, as confirmed by the following Statement of Ajit Pai a short time ago.  Chairman Pai, who is now the 34th Chairman of the FCC, included in his statement that he is looking forward to working with the new Administration, members of Congress, his colleagues, and the American public.  

Please contact us with any questions.

FCC Announces Comment Dates for TTY Transition Order


The Commission published in the Federal Register the Final Rule and Proposed Rule on the Transition from Text Telephone (“TTY”) to Real-Time Text (“RTT”) Technology Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“Order” and “FNPRM”), adopted in the December Open Meeting, thus establishing the effective date and comment dates.  Please see the previously circulated summary below for a comprehensive overview of the Order and FNRPM.

The Final Rule adopts the amendments in the Order made to facilitate the transition from TTY to RTT communication for those who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or have a speech disability over Internet Protocol (IP) enabled networks and services.  The Order will become effective February 22, 2017.

In the Proposed Rule, the Commission seeks comment on further actions it could take to continue the transition from TTY to RTT, as established in the FNPRM.  The comment dates are as follows:

Comments are due February 22, 2017.
Reply comments are due March 24, 2017. 

Please feel free to contact us with any questions. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Wireless Bureau Grants Waiver to AT&T for WCS Deadlines



The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (“Bureau”) of the FCC released an Order granting the petition for waiver of section 27.14(p)(1)-(2) and subsequent supplement filed by AT&T, BellSouth Mobile Data, Inc., New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC, and SBC Telecom Inc. (collectively “AT&T”).  The Bureau finds that granting the waiver, related to performance requirements and construction deadlines for AT&T’s 2.3 GHz Wireless Communications Service (“WCS”) C and D block licenses, is in the public interest because it will facilitate AT&T’s rapid deployment of a beneficial service in a way that makes efficient use of previously underused WCS spectrum while not causing harmful interference to adjacent Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service (“SDARS”) operations.  The waiver, granted with certain specified conditions, extends AT&T’s September 13, 2019 final construction deadline to September 13, 2021, modifies the metric used to evaluate final performance for the licenses, and waives the March 13, 2017 interim performance deadline.

As a reminder, WCS and SDARS occupy 55 MHz of spectrum from 2305 MHz to 2360 MHz (2.3 GHz band).  AT&T holds all U.S. licenses for WCS C and D block spectrum, which are immediately adjacent to the SDARS spectrum, and argued that technical restrictions to protect SDARS and AMT severely constrained its deployment of WCS spectrum.

The relief granted for the licenses is conditional upon AT&T meeting concrete steps showing progress toward the modified final benchmark.  Failure to comply with these conditions in a given Regional Economic Area Group (“REAG”) will result in termination of the waiver in that market.  To track AT&T’s progress toward meeting the September 13, 2021 deadline, the Bureau implements the following milestone requirements: 

  • September 13, 2017:  AT&T must file a report in ULS updating the Commission on the utility customers for which it has agreed to provide its smart grid service and the timeframes for deployment, as well as results of any equipment testing and trial/initial deployments.
  • September 19, 2019:  AT&T must have contracts for commercial deployments with at least ten utilities, file a report in ULS demonstrating that it has such contracts, and provide supporting documentation to the Commission.  AT&T must also have begun operation and provide corresponding documentation in two of the six continental REAGs, and update the Commission on the status of its build-out and contracts with other utilities.
  • September 13, 2020:  AT&T must have begun operations and provide documentation in four of the six continental REAGs, and update the Commission on the status of its build-out and contracts with other utilities.
  • September 13, 2021:  AT&T must file a report in ULS demonstrating its compliance with the modified final performance benchmark. 

Please feel free to contact us with any questions.


FCC Enforcement Bureau Issues Admonishment Order Against T-Mobile


The Enforcement Bureau (“Bureau”) of the FCC issued an Admonishment Order against T-Mobile for willful and repeated violations of Sections 222(a) and 201(b) of the Communications Act by failing to take reasonable measures to protect the confidentiality of its customers’ data and by failing to exercise reasonable oversight.  T-Mobile’s violations allowed 15 million of its customers to become victims of a data breach in 2015, where a third party gained unauthorized access to personal information collected by T-Mobile to conduct credit checks on customers.  Although T-Mobile relied on its vendor, Experian Information Solutions, Inc., (“Experian”) to keep the information secure, the Bureau concludes that T-Mobile cannot transfer its accountability to its outsourced vendors and therefore failed to protect its customers’ data.  The Bureau additionally notes that there were early warning signs to T-Mobile that Experian’s security practices were unreasonable and T-Mobile failed to engage in reasonable oversight of those security practices.

The Bureau is prohibited from fining T-Mobile for its violations by the one-year statute of limitations in the Communications Act, but holds T-Mobile responsible for the acts and omissions that led to the data breach and for the lack of reasonable oversight over Experian, thus warranting this Order.  The Order does not affect any liability T-Mobile may have under other federal and state investigations and civil proceedings that might be underway in connection with the 2015 data breach.

Please contact us with any questions. 
 

NRUF Form 502 Due Feburary 1, 2017



This is a reminder that Numbering Resource Utilization/Forecast Report (NRUF) Form 502 is due to be filed by February 1, 2017.  The North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) is required to collect, store and maintain number resource utilization and forecast data.  Accordingly, the FCC directs that NANPA number assignees holding geographic and/or certain non-geographic telephone numbers must report on their holdings twice each year (February 1 and August 1) using Form 502.  As with prior filings, the Form 502 may be filed online at http://www.nanpa.com/nruf/index.html, where instructions for completing the form also may be found.  Please note that the Excel form for reporting geographic and non-geographic numbering resources has been updated as of June 2016.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.



Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wireless Bureau Extends Comment Deadline on Infrastructure Public Notice


As you may recall, a Public Notice was released seeking comment on streamlining deployment of small cell infrastructure through wireless facilities siting policies.  The Wireless Bureau has granted a partial extension of time (30 days) for comments and reply comments on this Infrastructure Public Notice.  

Specifically, the Public Notice seeks comment on ways in which the Commission could promote wireless infrastructure deployment by issuing a declaratory ruling aimed at improving wireless facilities siting policies (including but not limited to seeking to lower the fees municipalities can charge for wireless and fiber installations in municipal rights-of-way, to an amount no more than necessary to recover costs, as was suggested in a Petition for Declaratory Ruling filed by Mobilitie, LLC).  The Notice invites commenters to provide updated, corrected, or more detailed information on such issues to develop a factual record that will assess the impact of local land-use authorities’ review of siting applications, as well as comments on general issues raised in the Petition and specific statutory interpretations.  

Revised Comment Date: March 8, 2017
Revised Reply Comment Date: April 7, 2017

Please contact us if you would like any additional information.

FCC Releases 2016 Universal Service Monitoring Report


The Commission released its 2016 Universal Service Monitoring Report, the nineteenth report prepared by federal and state staff members for the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service (“Universal Service Joint Board”).  The Monitoring Report incorporates data from several different sources, including the National Exchange Carrier Association (“NECA”) and Universal Service Administrative Company (“USAC”).

The Report contains 7 sections.  Section 1 gives an update on industry revenues, universal service program funding requirements, and contribution factors.  Sections 2 through 5 provide data on low-income, high-cost, schools and libraries, and rural health care support mechanisms.  Section 6 presents data on voice telephony subscribership and expenses based on Census and Consumer Surveys, and information on Internet subscribership and expenses.  Section 7 includes Consumer Price Index Data.

The entire report and supplementary materials are available here.

Please contact us if you would like any additional information.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Issues Policy Review on Sponsored Data and Zero-Rating in Mobile Broadband



The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau released a Policy Review presenting the results of the Bureau’s staff review during 2016 of sponsored data and zero-rating practices in the mobile broadband market, which establishes a draft framework for evaluating mobile zero rated data offerings.  The Commission found that two plans offered by operators in 2016 present significant risks to consumers and competition in downstream industry sectors because of network operators’ potentially unreasonable discrimination in favor of their own affiliates.

The Bureau describes “zero-rated” content, applications, and services as those that end users can access without the data they consume counting towards their usage allowances or data caps imposed by their operator’s service plans.  The Commission notes that 2016 was “a year of significant creativity and experimentation,” specifically noting T-Mobile and Sprint’s newly introduced data plans and AT&T/DIRECTV services.  In 2015, the Commission stated that it would assess zero-rating and sponsored data practices under the General Conduct Rule and the three bright line rules established in the Open Internet Order.  While the Bureau used traditional principles for assessing zero-rating impacts, the Report also provides the following categories and considerations for evaluation:
  •  Overall considerations underlying evaluations of how a practice affects Internet openness;
  •  Do these practices amount to ‘blocking’ or ‘throttling’ or paid prioritization?
  •  If the practice is not throttling or paid prioritization, does it violate the general conduct rule, either through:
o   Non Discrimination/Competitive Effects
o   Data Cap
o   Choice and End User Control
o   Transparency
o   Other (i.e. serving a civic engagement purpose, offering functionally-equivalent services to evade the rules)

The review focused specifically on four sponsored data offerings: T-Mobile Binge On; AT&T Data Perks; AT&T Sponsored Data; and Verizon FreeBee Data 360.  Using the General Conduct Rule and evaluating on a case-by-case basis, the major focus was on potential harm to consumers and competition in downstream industry sectors that could result from upstream network operators’ unreasonably discriminating in favor of select downstream providers that are affiliates.  The Bureau found it unlikely that either T-Mobile Binge On or AT&T Data Perks would unreasonably interfere or disadvantage edge providers’ or end users’ ability to access the Internet, or that either would violate the General Conduct Rule.  However, AT&T Sponsored Data and Verizon FreeBee raise significant questions that have not been answered in the Bureau’s requests for information, and certain practices in the data programs may violate the General Conduct Rule.  Specifically with the AT&T Sponsored Data plan, the Bureau is concerned that unaffiliated mobile video service providers must pay a significant amount of money for the data needed to offer programming to subscribers of the plan on a zero-rated basis.  In short, the costs both AT&T and Verizon will impose on third party providers will exceed the necessary costs in providing the service, which essentially is a violation of the General Conduct Rule.

Commissioner Pai released a statement noting his disappointment that he saw the report after it was released and it “does not reflect the views of the majority of Commissioners.”  He further notes that he is “confident that this latest regulatory spasm will not have any impact on the Commission’s policymaking or enforcement activities following next week’s inauguration.”

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