Category Archives: Enforcement, Investigations & Audits

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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

FCC Chairman Wheeler Turns to the FCC Blog to Encourage Robocall Blocking

On July 22, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler penned a blog post on the Commission’s website highlighting the efforts at the agency to prevent unwanted automated and prerecorded message calls restricted under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).  In particular, the blog post discussed recent and upcoming rulemakings, declaratory decisions, and enforcement actions, as well as … Continue Reading

The Month in FCC Enforcement: June 2016

As this blog has frequently covered, FCC Enforcement has been a significant and controversial area under Chairman Wheeler.  We have seen a trend toward higher profile enforcement actions, often with proposed fines in the tens of millions of dollars, and settlements with stricter terms than in the past.  In this podcast, partner Steve Augustino introduces … Continue Reading

FCC Enforcement: A Year in Review

New Enforcement Bureau Chief, Travis LeBlanc, took the FCC by storm when he assumed his position in 2014.  In this podcast, Communications partner Steve Augustino provides a review of LeBlanc’s second year running the Enforcement Bureau.  Mr. Augustino addresses the trends in enforcement over the past year and the emergence of an unlikely critic of … Continue Reading

Client Advisory: The FCC’s Broadband Privacy NPRM

As we discussed in our earlier blog post, on March 31, 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) voted along party lines (3-2) to launch a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to establish privacy rules for Broadband Internet Access Service (BIAS) providers.  These proposals, if adopted, could impose prescriptive and complex privacy obligations that … Continue Reading

FCC Includes Privacy Item on Its March Open Meeting Agenda: What to Expect

It’s official: next Thursday, March 31, 2016, the FCC will vote on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on a proposed framework for new privacy and data security rules for broadband Internet access service (BIAS) providers.  This proceeding will have important implications for not only the broadband providers subject to the rules, but also … Continue Reading

Verizon Agrees to Pay $1.35 Million to Settle FCC “Supercookie” Investigation

Modern mobile devicesOn March 7, 2016, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau announced that it reached a settlement with Verizon Wireless to resolve an investigation into whether Verizon violated the Commission’s rules by inserting Unique Identifier Headers (UIDH) – informally known as “supercookies” – into consumers’ Internet traffic over its wireless network as part of the company’s targeted advertising … Continue Reading

Interesting FCC Enforcement Actions — February 2016 Edition

It’s no secret that one of the major stories in the last two years has been the increased activism of the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) Enforcement Bureau (“Bureau”).  February 2016 was no exception in terms of the nature and level of activity.  In this blog entry, we highlight a few orders that stand out among the crowd. … Continue Reading

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 … Continue Reading

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 … Continue Reading

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 … Continue Reading
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