Category Archives: Enforcement, Investigations & Audits

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Commissioner O’Rielly Again Targets Pirate Broadcasters and Their Supporters to Walk the Enforcement Plank

Commissioner Michael O’Reilly called for stronger enforcement action to combat unauthorized “pirate” radio broadcasters in a statement before the Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on July 25, 2017.  The Commissioner’s recommendations came during the Subcommittee’s hearing on draft legislation to reauthorize the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”).  While the reauthorization … Continue Reading

July 2017 FCC Meeting Recap: FCC Plans to Strengthen and Expand “Slamming” and “Cramming” Rules

At its July 2017 Open Meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) designed to strengthen and expand consumer protections against “slamming” and “cramming.” Slamming is the unauthorized change of a consumer’s preferred service provider, while cramming is the placement of unauthorized charges on a consumer’s telephone bill.  As we … Continue Reading

FCC (Again) Takes to Bully Pulpit to Urge Network Reliability “Best Practices” to Combat Service Outages

On July 12, 2017, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (“Bureau”) of the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) issued a Public Notice encouraging communications service providers to implement certain “best practices” to avoid major service disruptions.  The Bureau’s recommendations come on the heels of recent major service outages caused by minor changes to service providers’ … Continue Reading

June 2017 FCC Meeting Recap: FCC Proposes $120 Million Fine for Alleged “Spoofed Robocall Campaign”

On June 22, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) issued a first-of-its-kind Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) alleging that Adrian Abramovich, through numerous companies that he owned or operated, violated the Truth in Caller ID Act by placing more than 95 million robocalls to consumers while “knowingly causing the display of inaccurate caller … Continue Reading

FCC Amends NAL in Rural Healthcare Proceeding, Increases Proposed Fine

In the first action of its kind, on June 7, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) issued an amendment to a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture and Order (“NAL”), for alleged violations of the rules governing the Universal Service Rural Health Care Program (“RHCP”). The FCC found that the fine proposed in the initial … Continue Reading

FCC Takes No Enforcement Action Despite Report Finding that Avoidable Failures Led to AT&T Mobility 911 Outage

  On May 18, 2017, at the Federal Communication Commission’s (“FCC” or “Commission”) May Open Meeting, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (“Bureau”) presented its final report on its investigation into the VoLTE 911 outage experienced by AT&T Mobility (“AT&T”) on March 8, 2017 (“the Report”).  The Bureau offered a strong critique of AT&T, … Continue Reading

Deadlines Set for Robocall NPRM

On Wednesday, May 17, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or the Commission) published in the Federal Register a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) which aims to develop rules and solutions to reduce the number of illegal robocalls placed to consumers.  The NPRM was adopted at the Commission’s March open meeting.… Continue Reading

FCC Provides Guidance on Inability to Pay Analysis in Enforcement Actions; Significantly Reduces Slamming/Cramming Penalty

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reduced the penalty assessed against a long distance carrier by over $6 million in a Forfeiture Order issued earlier this week, after the carrier demonstrated an inability to pay the proposed fine.  In doing so, the FCC provided rare insight into how it assesses inability to pay claims raised by … Continue Reading

Wireline Competition Bureau Explains No Presumption of Intrastate or Interstate Jurisdiction for Private Lines; Carriers Must Conduct Good Faith Inquiry Into Nature of Traffic Carried

By an Order issued late last week, the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) provided important insight regarding determining the jurisdictional classification of private line revenues.  In ruling on long-pending petitions for reconsideration of Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) audit findings regarding the classification of private line revenues, the Bureau explained that the longstanding Ten Percent Rule … Continue Reading

Client Advisory: Congress Repeals FCC 2016 Privacy Order via Congressional Review Act

On April 3, 2017, President Trump signed into law a Congressional joint resolution eliminating new broadband and voice privacy rules set forth in a November 2016 order (the 2016 Privacy Order) by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) (the Joint Resolution).  Members of Congress largely voted along partisan lines. The House approved the Joint Resolution by … Continue Reading

Court Rules in FTC’s Favor on “Common Carrier” Status in Cramming Case

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, … Continue Reading

A Change of Pace? Pirate Radio Actions Signal A Possible Shift to Accelerated Issuance of Forfeiture Orders

On Thursday, February 23, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a pair of forfeiture orders against pirate radio operators.  Each was subject to a $25,000 fine for allegedly continually operating unlicensed radio stations in violation of Section 301 of the Communications Act. … Continue Reading

FCC Issues First Commission-level Consent Decree Order Since Removing Authority from Enforcement Bureau

On February 15, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued its first Commission-level consent decree since Chairman Pai’s process reform measure, discussed in our earlier blog post, which removed the Enforcement Bureau’s (Bureau) power to settle monetary enforcement actions originally issued by the FCC.  Settlement of this matter had been in the works for some … Continue Reading

FCC Strips Enforcement Bureau of Authority to Settle Commission-Level Actions

The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau will no longer have the power to settle monetary enforcement actions originally issued by the Commission under a process reform announced by Chairman Pai on Wednesday.  Settlements of forfeitures proposed or imposed by the Commission will now be subject to a full Commission vote, as was the NAL that initiated the … Continue Reading

The Month in FCC Enforcement: The Midnight Ride of Travis LeBlanc

Significant changes in FCC enforcement personnel and practices are expected after the inauguration of President Trump. This installment of Steve Augustino’s FCC Enforcement series on Kelley Drye’s Full Spectrum podcast chronicles the last actions of the FCC Enforcement Bureau led by Travis LeBlanc. Steve’s FCC Enforcement series regularly examines developments and trends in FCC enforcement. … Continue Reading

The FCC Fines Straight Path $ 100 Million for Failing to Meet License Obligations

Last week, the Enforcement Bureau (“EB”) of the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commision”) reached a $ 100 million Consent Decree with Straight Path Communications Inc (“Straight Path” or “The Company”) for fraudulently violating FCC buildout and discontinuance rules with respect to their licenses in the 28 GHz and 39 GHz spectrum bands.  Under … Continue Reading

FTC Announces Two Telemarketing Cases

On January 13, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it filed two lawsuits against more than a dozen individual and corporate defendants allegedly coordinated by two individuals.  In the complaints, the FTC alleges multiple violations of the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR).  Specifically, the complaints allege that over a period several years, the … Continue Reading

Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Releases Draft Framework for Analyzing Zero-Rated and Sponsored Data Programs

On January 11, 2017, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB or Bureau) of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) issued an informal report—“Policy Review of Mobile Broadband Operators’ Sponsored Data Offerings for Zero-Rated Content and Services”—that establishes a draft framework for reviewing mobile broadband providers’ sponsored data and zero-rated offerings and analyzes the zero-rated and … Continue Reading

The Month in FCC Enforcement: October 2016

With the Presidential election approaching, the Enforcement Bureau seems intent on doubling down on its legacy of aggressive, principle-based enforcement. This installment of Steve Augustino’s FCC Enforcement series features the FCC’s $48 million settlement with T-Mobile over data throttling allegations involving its mobile internet services. He also examines another unusual “admonishment” and other enforcement items … Continue Reading

FCC Flexes Muscle: T-Mobile to Pay $48 Million for Failing to Disclose Limits on ‘Unlimited’ Data

Showing that it’s not about to slow down its aggressive enforcement of its open Internet regulations, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a settlement yesterday resolving claims that T-Mobile USA Inc. (T-Mobile) failed to adequately disclose material restrictions on T-Mobile and MetroPCS data plans that were advertised as “unlimited” from August 2014 to June 2015.  … Continue Reading

Comcast Reaches Record $2.3 Million Settlement with FCC Over “Negative Option Billing”

Yesterday, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau reached a $2.3 million settlement with Comcast Corporation (Comcast) to resolve an investigation into whether Comcast wrongfully charged cable TV customers for services and equipment that those customers never authorized.  This prohibited practice, which the Commission refers to as “negative option billing”, is cable’s functional equivalent to the telco practice … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Decision in AT&T “Throttling” Case May Reset Boundaries Between FTC and FCC Jurisdiction

On Monday, August 29, 2016, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion that may dramatically alter the boundaries between the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) and Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) authority over phone companies, broadband providers, and other common carriers.  The Ninth Circuit dismissed a case that the FTC brought against AT&T over its … Continue Reading

The Month in FCC Enforcement: July/August 2016

July was a busy month for the Enforcement Bureau, bucking the cliché of a quiet summertime in Washington D.C. In this podcast, partner Steve Augustino examines five enforcement actions: an NAL issued against AT&T for E-rate violations, a consent decree with AT&T over cramming practices, an unusual “admonishment” of Momentum Telecom Inc. for failing to … Continue Reading

Inside the FCC’s First Enforcement Action For Violation of the E-rate Program’s Lowest Corresponding Price Requirement

Late last month, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) released its first enforcement action predicated on the “Lowest Corresponding Price” requirement of its E-rate rules. The LCP rules require a telecommunications carrier to offer schools and libraries communications services “at rates lower than that charged for similar services to other parties.”  The Commission’s Notice … Continue Reading
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