Video Game Software Industry Seeks a Final Disabilities Access Waiver Extension

The Federal Communications Commission (“Commission” or “FCC”) recently released a Public Notice seeking comment on a petition filed by the Entertainment Software Association (“ESA”) seeking a one year final extension of its class waiver from the FCC’s accessibility requirements (“Petition”). Specifically, ESA seeks waiver from the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act’s (“CVAA”) requirement that advanced communications services (“ACS”), like voice and text communications, built into video game software be made accessible for people with disabilities. Comments on the Petition are due by December 1, 2017.

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FCC Equipment Authorization Rule Change Transitions Now in Effect

On November 2, 2017, the FCC’s revised equipment authorization rules were published in the Federal Register and took effect immediately.  Our advisory details those rule revisions.  The Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) had earlier determined that the new rules included no changes to the existing information collection requirements that required further OMB review before they could take effect. Continue Reading

Partner John Heitmann to Host Armchair Discussion with Commissioner O’Rielly

Partner John Heitmann will host an armchair discussion with FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly on Wednesday, November 29 from 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. at the offices of Kelley Drye, 101 Park Avenue, 27th Floor, New York, NY 10178. The discussion will be followed by a “Meet and Greet” brown-bag luncheon, providing an opportunity for attendees to meet the Commissioner in person.

This event is open to FCBA members and non-members but seats are limited and reservations are required.

To register, go to www.fcba.org.

House Antitrust Subcommittee Explores the Role of Antitrust Law in Net Neutrality

On November 1, 2017 the House Antitrust Law Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss the role of federal agencies in preserving an open Internet.

The core question discussed at the hearing was whether current antitrust law is sufficient to ensure net neutrality absent FCC rules. The panelists—including FTC Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen and Commissioner Terrell McSweeney; former FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell; and Michael Romano, NTCA Senior Vice President of Industry Affairs and Business Development—and committee members were generally divided down party lines, with Republicans arguing that FCC rules were both unnecessary and counterproductive and Democrats arguing that rules were necessary to ensure an open Internet, free expression, and innovation.   Continue Reading

October 2017 FCC Meeting Recap: FCC Proposes to Implement Nationwide Number Portability

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) voted unanimously at its October Open Meeting to initiate a notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”) and a notice of inquiry (“NOI”) on how to facilitate nationwide number portability (“NNP”), an issue it last addressed after the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act (the “Act”).  According to the Commission, allowing a consumer to keep their current phone number when changing providers, regardless of the size or type of service, will increase competition. Comments on the NPRM and NOI will be due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register and reply comments will be due 60 days after publication.

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Honesty is the Best Policy: FCC Imposes $1.7 Million Fine for Submitting Misleading Information in Inmate Calling Services Deal

Stressing the importance of receiving truthful and accurate information, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) reached a $1.7 million settlement with inmate calling services provider Securus Technologies, Inc. and related entities (“Securus”) to resolve allegations that Securus submitted misleading information to the FCC in support of a pending transfer of control.  Although the settlement cleared the way for the transfer’s approval, the FCC held up the deal for months while it investigated statements made by Securus representatives.  As a result, the FCC’s action supports the adage that “haste often makes waste” in telecommunications-related deals and that submitting misleading information to the FCC can come with significant consequences.

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October 2017 FCC Meeting Recap: Can We Be Better PALs? The FCC Seeks to Modify the Two-Year-Old Rules in the 3.5 GHz Band Citing the Need to Bolster Investment Incentives.

At its Open Meeting on October 24, the FCC took a major step in recrafting the licensing and other rules for the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (“CBRS”) in the 3550-3700 MHz band (the “3.5 GHz band”) and promote 5G rollouts.  Early in his tenure as FCC Chair which began in January of this year, Ajit Pai tasked Commissioner Michael O’Reilly with reexamining the regulatory framework in the band adopted in 2015, particularly as it applied to Priority Access Licenses (“PALs”).  Within months, CTIA and T-Mobile filed petitions for rulemaking to make the licensing rules, from commercial wireless’s perspective more investment friendly.  Now the Commission has moved ultra-rapidly to act on those petitions and issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) to consider making rule changes largely consistent with those sought by those proponents.  The Commission hopes to bolster commercial investment and deployment in the band convinced that, for large scale 5G deployments, providers need greater certainty than the Wheeler-era rules afford. Continue Reading

October 2017 FCC Meeting Recap: FCC Establishes Volume Control Standards for Wireline, ACS and Wireless Handsets

At the Federal Communication Commission’s (Commission’s) monthly meeting on October 24, 2017, the Commissioners approved a Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration (Order) updating Commission rules regarding hearing aid compatibility (HAC).  Specifically, the Order adopts a new wireline HAC volume control standard, applies the wireline HAC standards to handsets used for advanced communications services (ACS) like interconnected and non-interconnected VoIP, and adopts a volume control requirement for wireless handsets.  The wireless device volume control requirement is the most controversial and drew dissents from both of the Chairman’s fellow Republicans, despite the three year runway for compliance. Continue Reading

Federal Communications Commission Draft Order Proposes Possible Elimination and Further Streamlining of Section 43.62 Annual International Reports

In advance of its October 24, 2017 Open Meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) has released a Draft Report and Order (Draft Order) for Commission consideration that, if adopted, would eliminate the Section 43.62 annual International Traffic and Revenue Report  (International Traffic Report) and streamline the Section 43.62 annual Circuit Capacity Report (Circuit Capacity Report).  As we reported in March, the Commission previously released a notice of proposed rulemaking seeking comments on whether it should retain, modify or eliminate the annual International Traffic Report and Circuit Capacity Report filed by certain providers of international telecommunications.  The Draft Order is not final and may differ from the final item released after the Open Meeting.  However, if the Draft Order is adopted as currently drafted, it could offer some welcome relief for reporting international providers.

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FCC Proposes to Auction Desirable 833-prefix Numbers, Allow the Sale of Toll Free Numbers

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) at its September Open Meeting that proposes significant changes to not only the methodology for assigning toll-free numbers but also the management of the toll free number assignment process.  The principal proposal in the NPRM is to use an auction process to assign certain highly valued (e.g., vanity and repeater) toll free numbers “to better promote the equitable and efficient use of numbers.”  The Commission also proposes to eliminate its prohibition on the brokering of toll free numbers, which would open the marketplace for sales of valuable toll free numbers. Comments will be due 30 days after publication of the NPRM in the Federal Register and reply comments will be due 60 days after publication.

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