Imagine boarding a cross-country flight and finding yourself next to someone who will be talking on his or her cell phone for the next three hours. Would it make a difference if you knew ahead of time that the flight allowed voice calls? This scenario is exactly what the Department of Transportation (DOT) is proposing.
Designed to serve as a comprehensive review of Tuesday’s elections, our guide analyzes the 2016 results and looks ahead to the 115th Congress with an in-depth review of upcoming changes to the House and Senate. The presentation further reviews key policy issues facing the President and the Congress, including tax, trade, healthcare, transportation and infrastructure, regulatory reform, communications & technology and food & agriculture. We also take a look at potential Supreme Court nominees and the 2018 Senate races.
On June 14, 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order, which classified broadband Internet access service (BIAS) as a “telecommunications service” under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, and imposed on providers a slate of “open Internet” and traditional common-carrier regulations. In this podcast, Jennifer Holtz and Jameson Dempsey, associates in Kelley Drye & Warren’s Communications Group, review the challenges to the FCC’s order, and unpack the decision and its reasoning. Listeners should also check out our client advisory on the decision.
In late November, the FCC issued an Order on Reconsideration updating the telecommunications carrier pole attachment formula in its rules. Specifically, the FCC adopted modified cost allocators to bring parity to the pole attachment rates for telecommunications carrier attachers and cable company attachers in nearly all circumstances. The timing of the Reconsideration Order came in response to concerns among cable operators offering broadband Internet access service (”BIAS”) that, as a result of the FCC’s Open Internet Order, they would be forced to pay the oftentimes higher telecommunications attachment rate, as well as other concerns raised by competitive telecommunications carriers. The Petition seeking reconsideration had been pending since 2011, after the Commission’s last significant order regarding the pole attachment rules and procedures.
The rule changes adopted by the Reconsideration Order have not yet taken effect. They will do so thirty (30) days after publication of the Reconsideration Order in the Federal Register. For more information about the FCC’s action and the changes to the pole attachment formula, please read our advisory.
The USA Freedom Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama on June 2, 2015. Much is certain about this law, for example, after six months the phone companies, not NSA will hold the bulk phone records but not the content. A new kind of court order will permit the government to analyze them. But for those familiar with the process of phone companies providing call record access to local, state and federal law enforcement today, many questions raised are not addressed in the USA Freedom Act. TeleStrategies is holding a webinar on July 16, 2015 with data retention experts that will address likely solutions and new policies guidelines for the law to be implemented in six months (or by December 2, 2015). Kelley Drye is excited that Steve Augustino will be joining this important conversation.
On June 11, 2015, the D.C. Circuit rejected U.S. Telecom’s request for stay which would have put the Open Internet rules on hold until the court issued a decision on their legality. However, the court agreed to expedite its proceedings, and is expected to issue a final decision in the case (no. 15-1063) by early next year.
As a result, the Open Internet Order’s (Order) three bright line rules and the new “general conduct” standard will become effective on June 12. The reclassification of broadband Internet access service (BIAS) as a telecommunications service and the complementary action forbearing from the application and enforcement of sections of Title II of the Communications Act will also become effective on June 12. Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Denies Stay, Open Internet Rules Become Effective June 12
We now know that the Rural Call Completion rules the Federal Communications Commission adopted in late 2013, and modified in November 2014, have taken effect, with obligations commencing as soon as April 1, 2015. The rules require certain originating long-distance providers to record, retain, and report information on delivery of long distance calls to rural local exchange carriers (“LECs”) individually and to nonrural LECs in the aggregate. The holdup on the rules taking effect was Office of Management and Budget review of the data collection requirements. Continue Reading New Rural Call Completion Deadlines Established
The Wireline Competition Bureau recently released a draft Eligible Services List (“ESL”) for FY 2015 funding requests for schools and libraries under the E-rate program, and is seeking comment on the draft list for funding year 2015. Implementing the new E-rate rules, the ESL outlines the category one and two services that will qualify for the upcoming funding year. The list also looks markedly different from past years and was designed to be more user-friendly.
The ESL specifically limits “internal connections” to those broadband connections and services that are necessary for high-speed access. Managed wi-fi services are also prominently featured on the form and may include LAN/WLAN network services, diagnostic services, network monitoring or helpdesk support. The ESL includes caching as an eligible category two service, and the Commission seeks comment on the “necessary software or equipment” required for caching and whether the ESL should also cover caching services, in addition to any software or equipment.
As expected, the ESL notes that voice services as subject to a “phase down” per the Commission’s rules. Providers should be aware that although wireless telephone services (like cellular voice) may be eligible for funding, E-rate dollars cannot be applied to data or text messaging plans.
As a reminder, a recent FCC decision excludes handsets from E-rate funding. This will likely present an issue for providers as it will force these groups to cost-allocate eligible and ineligible services. Unfortunately, the Commission has not given additional guidance about how service providers should approach cost allocations.
We urge service providers to review the Commission’s Public Notice along with the Eligible Services List, and submit comments to the Wireline Competition Bureau. In particular, providers offering managed wi-fi and caching services – two of the newly added eligible services – should carefully review the descriptions to determine if these services are adequately described. Comments are due September 3. Reply Comments will be due September 18.
With new access charge obligations for interconnected VoIP, new contribution obligations for non-interconnected VoIP, and possible outage reporting requirements, 2012 is shaping up as a year of changes for VoIP providers. Another possible change may be in store for how VoIP providers obtain access to telephone numbers.
Since 2005, various petitions have been pending seeking a waiver of FCC rules to allow interconnected VoIP providers to obtain direct access to numbering resources through the North American Numbering Plan Administrator and the Pooling Administrator. In March 2011, Vonage renewed its request for waiver and submitted supplemental information in support of its request. Shortly after Christmas, the FCC released a Public Notice seeking comment on Vonage’s filing and its supplemental materials. With a brief extension granted, the comments are due on January 25.
VoIP providers and CLECs serving VoIP providers should monitor this docket closely.