Annual CPNI Certifications Due March 1, 2016

It’s time again for carriers to submit the annual Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) certification to the FCC.  Telecommunications carriers and interconnected VoIP providers are required to certify annually their compliance with the FCC’s CPNI protection rules.  The 2016 report covers calendar year 2015 and will be due by March 1, 2016.  (Entities providing telecommunications on a private carriage basis and non-interconnected VoIP providers are not required to file the CPNI certification).

Our recent client advisory provides an overview of the filing requirements.  Please note that the certification requires a “brief statement” describing how the filer’s policies ensure compliance with the CPNI rules and requires certain information regarding complaints received within the prior year.  Certifications must be signed by an officer with personal knowledge of the company’s CPNI compliance.  Providers may file CPNI certifications via an FCC web application or via ECFS, mail or hand delivery.

The FCC has consistently enforced compliance with the CPNI certification reporting requirement.  As we’ve noted in prior posts, penalties for failing to file the CPNI certification have varied widely over time, but seem to have settled at $25,000 per failure to file.  To avoid such exposure, filers should be sure to file the certification by the March 1 deadline.  In addition, this filing provides an opportunity for filers to take time to review their CPNI policies and actual business practices to ensure they still meet the FCC’s CPNI protection requirements.

Interconnected VoIP Providers Can Secure Telephone Numbers From NANPA Starting February 18

The Wireline Competition Bureau of the FCC issued a Public Notice on February 4, 2016 announcing that beginning February 18, 2016 the Bureau will accept applications from interconnected VoIP providers to obtain telephone numbers directly from the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA).  Interconnected VoIP providers can submit applications for numbers electronically using the Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS).

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New Telecom Carrier Pole Attachment Rates Will Become Effective March 4

The FCC’s modification to the telecommunications carrier pole attachment rate formula have been published in the Federal Register and are set to take effect on March 4, 2016.  As we reported in December, the FCC issued an Order on Reconsideration modifying the cost allocators to bring parity between the telecommunications and cable attacher rates.  The initial Federal Register publication noted an April 1 effective date, but discussions with FCC staff confirmed that March 4th should be the correct effective date and that the FCC will be issuing an erratum.

Now that the effective date is set, questions may be raised in discussions between attachers and pole owners as to the proper effect of the revised formulas on rates that will be or have already been assessed in calendar year 2016.  Resolution of any such questions will turn on a variety of factors including, among others, the pertinent provisions of the parties’ existing agreements.

For more information about these rule updates, please read our advisory.

Don’t Miss Kelley Drye’s 7th Annual USF Update Webinar on February 24, 2016 at 12 PM ET

Kelley Drye is proud to present our 7th Annual Update on federal Universal Service Fund (USF) activities.  This one-of-a-kind webinar provides an in-depth discussion of trends and issues involving the Universal Service Fund, from contributions, to the four support funds, as well as audits and enforcement.  This educational event is intended to help any communications provider understand and thrive in this space.

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Supreme Court Sustains TCPA Plaintiff’s Claim Following an Unaccepted Settlement Offer


On January 20, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, where it was considering whether a plaintiff seeking damages under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) is able to maintain his individual claim and claims on behalf of a putative class once that plaintiff has received an offer from the defendant to settle his individual claim in full.  The court – by a 6-3 vote – held that in this case, the defendant’s unaccepted settlement offer did not render the plaintiff’s claim moot for Article III jurisdiction purposes.  It also held that the defendant in this case was not entitled to derivative sovereign immunity from TCPA liability despite being a contractor for the Navy.

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The FCA and the USF: Reactions and Impressions from the FCBA’s False Claims Act Seminar

Last week, the Federal Communication Bar Association’s (FCBA’s) Enforcement Committee hosted a legal seminar on an issue that is somewhat new and unfamiliar to the communications bar – the federal False Claims Act (FCA), and particularly its use by the federal government to combat fraud in the Universal Service Fund (USF).  All in attendance had the unique opportunity to hear from representatives from the Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. Attorney’s office and the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau on the process for evaluating FCA cases, including the substantial intergovernmental coordination, as well as a lively debate from practitioners and litigators regarding whether or not the FCA should be applied to claims for USF.  For those unfamiliar with the FCA, a brief overview is available here.

While the entire discussion was enlightening and rich with inside detail, there were a few things that stood out for anyone keeping an eye on these issues.

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FirstNet Releases Final RFP for Up to $6.5 Billion

funding_opportunity_v1r1FirstNet released its final Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking a Contractor to build and operate the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN), as authorized by the Middle Class Tax Cut and Job Relief Act of 2012 (Act), and fund FirstNet operations.   The RFP is the result of input to more than 13 Requests for Information, two public Industry Days, and a year of dialogue with the public safety community.  The RFP provides for a single award, Indefinite Delivery-Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract with fixed price payments.  In exchange, the winning contractor gains access to 20 MHz of contiguous 700 MHz spectrum and the ability to lease excess network capacity to secondary commercial users, receiving up to $6.5 billion in funding from FirstNet.  FirstNet envisions a 25-year public-private partnership, suggesting that solutions may include “various partnerships and business arrangements that monetize new public safety market offerings via devices, applications and other value-added benefits and services.”  FirstNet plans to select a contractor by the end of the year.

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FCC Reaffirms Potential TCPA Liability for Text Message Platforms


On January 11, 2016, the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau released an order denying a petition by a text message platform provider for a declaratory ruling that the Commission should evaluate TCPA liability for these types of entities under the same standard established for fax broadcasters.  In the Order, the Bureau explained that a separate liability standard for text message apps and platforms was laid out in the Commission’s July 2015 Omnibus TCPA Order and that “text broadcasters can be liable for TCPA violations based on the factors discussed in that decision.”

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New Funding Available for Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program

funding_opportunity_v1r1The Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) announced its 2016 application window for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program, which is designed to provide access to education, training and health care resources for rural Americans.  Grants range from $50,000 to $500,000, and applications are due March 14, 2016.  RUS will publish the amount of funding received in the final Appropriations Act on its website.

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Non-Telco Company Agrees to $135,000 Civil Penalty to Settle Investigation into Unauthorized Operations of Wireless Stations

Last week, the Enforcement Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) announced a $135,000 settlement with Constellium Rolled Products Ravenswood, LLC (“Constellium”) regarding the company’s unauthorized radio station operations, failure to timely file radio station renewal applications, and acquiring private land mobile radio service (“PLMRS”) station licenses without advance FCC approval.  What makes the Constellium consent decree different than most is that the settlement was reached after the Bureau issued a Notice of Apparent Liability (“NAL”) proposing a forfeiture for these violations.  Much more frequently, consent decree orders are reached earlier in the process, obviating the issuance of an NAL.  In this case, the Bureau agreed to a significant reduction in the forfeiture in exchange for Constellium implementing a 3-year robust compliance plan, giving station licensees a glimpse into the potential value of settling in comparison with being subjected to an NAL followed by a forfeiture order if the defense against the NAL is not successful.

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