At its March 23, 2017 Open Meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) voted unanimously to adopt a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) seeking comment on a proposal to reduce certain reporting requirements for international telecommunications service providers (International Service Providers). In particular, the FCC proposes to eliminate, in its entirety, the annual International Traffic and Revenue Report, in which International Service Providers report details regarding their international telecommunications services. The NPRM also seeks comments on ways to streamline the annual Circuit Capacity Report in which International Service Providers report on satellite, terrestrial, and submarine cable system usage and capacity.
On an issue that takes on new-found importance after FTC v. AT&T Mobility, a federal court in Montana granted summary judgment in favor of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in a case alleging that the defendants violated the FTC Act by placing charges on consumer telephone bills for purportedly unwanted service add-ons, such as voicemail, electronic fax, and call forwarding (a practice referred to as “cramming”). In its decision, the court rejected the defendants’ claim that the corporate entities involved in the case are “common carriers,” and therefore exempt from prosecution under the FTC Act.
On March 16, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission’s Media Bureau (Bureau) released a Memorandum Opinion and Order (Order) addressing Honda Motor Co., Ltd’s (Honda) January 2017 petition for limited waiver of video accessibility rules for its in-vehicle rear entertainment systems. The Bureau granted Honda’s 20-month waiver request with the condition that Honda provide status update reports.
During a plenary meeting held March 6-9 in Dubrovnik, Croatia, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) a standards-developing collaboration between groups of telecommunications associations approved an accelerated time frame for the completion of specifications which will facilitate standards-based 5G deployment to begin in 2019 instead of 2020. Continue Reading
In February, Chairman Ajit Pai presided over his first major open meeting since becoming chairman, at which the Commission adopted items furthering the FCC’s reverse auctions for Universal Service funding and narrowing the applicability of the Open Internet Order’s transparency requirements. In this episode of Kelley Drye’s Full Spectrum podcast, Steve Augustino, Avonne Bell, and Brad Currier break down the key details in the FCC’s Mobility Fund Phase II order, Connect America Fund Phase II auction order, and Open Internet small business exemption order. They also discuss some of Chairman Pai’s recent process reforms in the context of the February and March open meetings. This is the first in a semi-regular series examining noteworthy actions taken at FCC open meetings.
To listen to this episode, please click here.
With the D.C. Circuit still considering the appeal of the FCC’s 2015 TCPA Declaratory Ruling and Order, Chairman Pai is limited (for now at least) in what he can do to pursue his vision of the TCPA. Nevertheless, with a partial remand of the 2015 Order at least a possibility, it is worthwhile to take a look back at then-Commissioner Pai’s dissent in that proceeding as an indicator of where a Pai-led FCC might take the TCPA.
Wireless carriers are a major step closer to using unlicensed spectrum to ease network congestion and boost speeds following the FCC’s authorization of the first LTE-Unlicensed (“LTE-U”) devices on February 22, 2017. LTE-U technology allows carriers to deliver mobile traffic over unlicensed spectrum in the 5 GHz band already occupied by Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other technologies. The recipients of the equipment authorizations are Ericsson and Nokia. The certifications by the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology (“OET”) mean that the devices in question satisfy the technical criteria of the FCC designed to prevent harmful interference to radio communications services. Those rules stipulate that unlicensed devices must accept any harmful interference they receive from any source. Unlicensed devices have been certified for decades. The announcement of the certifications of the LTE-U devices represents an important milestone in the FCC’s recent focus on spectrum sharing and broadband deployment because these devices are specifically designed to support broadband and work in an integrated fashion with commercial mobile broadband providers’ networks. In short, this is not just a pumped up version of Wi-Fi offload, which carriers have used for years to relieve congestion on mobile networks. These devices mean that the hundreds of megahertz of 5 GHz spectrum that the cable and unlicensed communities fought for years to gain access to – the so-called Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (“U-NII”) bands – will now be available for LTE technologies.
On February 23, 2017, during the second open meeting under Chairman Ajit Pai, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or the Commission) unanimously approved an order launching the long-awaited second phase of the Mobility Fund. The Mobility Fund offers financial support to service providers to preserve and extend mobile broadband and voice services in unserved and underserved areas. The FCC’s order will provide up to $4.53 billion over the next decade to expand 4G LTE coverage to areas currently lacking that level of service, with $340 million reserved for Tribal areas. This order is one component of Chairman Pai’s focus on bridging the digital divide. The full text of the FCC’s order and further notice of proposed rulemaking has not been released. Continue Reading
At the February 2017 Open Meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) approved an Order finalizing bidding rules for the upcoming Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II auction where service providers will compete for up to $1.98 billion in financial support in areas where the incumbent provider declined cost-model funding. This Order is the next stage in an ongoing effort by the Commission to revise aspects of the high cost program of the universal service fund (USF) to encourage the extension of voice and broadband communications services to rural and high cost areas of the country. As of this writing, the Commission has yet to release the text of the order.
On Thursday February 23, 2017, by a 2-1 vote, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to restore the Small Provider Exemption from the Commission’s Open Internet rules, and to expand the exemption to cover more BIAS providers.
In the 2015 Open Internet Order, the FCC adopted enhanced transparency disclosure requirements for Internet service providers by requiring providers to disclose promotional rates, all fees and/or surcharges, all data caps and allowances, and additional network performance metrics (e.g., packet loss).