J. Bradford Currier

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FCC Moves to Further Deregulate Business Data Services

Nearly a year after it ordered sweeping deregulation of the business data services (“BDS”) market, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) proposed new rules that would allow certain small rural carriers to move from longstanding rate-of-return regulation to price cap regulation for their BDS offerings.  The transition would reduce the regulatory obligations of such carriers, including … Continue Reading

FCC Sets Stage for $4.5 Billion Auction by Resolving Mobility Fund Phase II Challenges

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) took a major step forward on closing the “digital divide” in mobile broadband at its February meeting by unanimously adopting an Order resolving the remaining challenges to the Mobility Fund Phase II (“MF-II”) auction.  The order eases the letter of credit requirements and clarifies the collocation obligations for funding recipients, … Continue Reading

Does the Rural Healthcare Program Need a Check-Up? Program Under Microscope Following $18.7 Million Proposed Fine for Fraud

The Rural Health Care Program (“RHCP”) is sure to face increased scrutiny in the wake of a $18.7 million proposed fine issued by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) at its January meeting against a telecommunications reseller for allegedly defrauding the program.  The FCC claims that DataConnex, one of the top five recipients of RHCP funding, … Continue Reading

E-Rate Fraud in Crosshairs Following Charter School Indictment

E-Rate fraud is back in the spotlight following the indictment of a Dallas charter school CEO and the owner of a contracting company for an alleged kickback scheme resulting in over $300,000 in illegal subsidies. Federal prosecutors stated that the pair violated the E-Rate program’s competitive bidding requirements and submitted fraudulent invoices to the Federal … Continue Reading

November 2017 FCC Meeting Recap: FCC Aims to Speed Wireless Deployment by Eliminating Historic Preservation Review When Replacing Utility Poles

Highlighting the need for rapid infrastructure deployment to meet growing consumer data demands and support future 5G services, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) unanimously adopted a Report and Order at its November 16, 2017, meeting to eliminate historic preservation review of replacement utility poles under certain conditions. The FCC’s limited action marks the first decision … Continue Reading

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 … Continue Reading

FCC Chairman Proposes Another Hurricane-Related Exception to the FCC’s Rules

A notable trend under Chairman Pai’s leadership has become the FCC’s proactive willingness to modify its rules in light of recent natural disasters.  As discussed in our recent podcast, the FCC suspended or waived a number of regulatory requirements over the past few weeks for carriers affected by recent major weather events, including rules related … Continue Reading

New Podcast: Communications Impacts of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

As communications networks continue to recover from the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and with further severe weather events on the horizon, this episode of Kelley Drye’s Full Spectrum podcast takes a look at the impact the hurricanes have on communications service providers. In this episode, Partner Steve Augustino and Associate Brad Currier describe … Continue Reading

FCC Proposes First-Ever Forfeiture Against Property Owners for Facilitating Pirate Radio Operations

Continuing its assault on unlicensed broadcast operations, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) issued a unanimous Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (“NAL”) at its September meeting proposing the statutory maximum fine of $144,344 against a pirate radio operator as well as the owners of the property housing the unlicensed station.  The action represents the first … Continue Reading

FCC Seeks to Create Uniformity in Formal Complaint Processes

This week, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) to increase uniformity among several diverse sets of FCC complaint procedures.  Today, there are three different mechanisms for complaints handled by either the Market Disputes Resolution Division (“MDRD”) or the Telecommunications Consumers Division of the Enforcement Bureau regarding common … Continue Reading

August 2017 FCC Meeting Recap: FCC Rings Up Another Spoofing Robocaller, Proposing Over $82 Million in Fines

As part of its August 2017 Open Meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (“NAL”) proposing over $82 million in fines against Philip Roesel and the insurance companies he operated for allegedly violating the Truth in Caller Act by altering the caller ID information (a/k/a “spoofing”) of more … Continue Reading

August 2017 FCC Meeting Recap: FCC Adopts Challenge Process for Billions in Mobility Fund Phase II Support

At its August 2017 Open Meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) unanimously adopted an Order on Reconsideration and Second Report and Order (“Order”) outlining a process to challenge the FCC’s determinations of which areas will receive financial support in the upcoming second phase of the Mobility Fund.  The Mobility Fund provides financial support to wireless … Continue Reading

Enforcement Action in Focus: FCC Imposes Potential Liability on Technology Platforms for Involvement in Unlawful Robocalls

On July 26, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) released the text of the Forfeiture Order adopted at the Commission’s July 2017 open meeting against Dialing Services, LLC for enabling unauthorized prerecorded message calls (a/k/a “robocalls”) by third parties to wireless phones in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).  The Forfeiture … Continue Reading

New Podcast: Pai the Enforcer

When Ajit Pai was a Commissioner, he was a frequent critic of the FCC’s enforcement practice.  Now that Chairman Pai has led the FCC for six months, his approach to enforcement is coming into better focus.  In this episode of Kelley Drye’s Full Spectrum podcast, Kelley Drye enforcement attorneys Steve Augustino and Brad Currier discuss … Continue Reading

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

What to Expect at the FCC’s July 2017 Open Meeting

Below is Kelley Drye’s preview of the items under consideration at the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC’s) upcoming monthly Open Meeting, to be held on July 13, 2017.  Consistent with the trend since he took over the Commission, Chairman Ajit Pai continues to schedule a large number of items.  Indeed, for the sixth month in a … 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

Split FCC Proposes Rural “Rate Floor” Reform

On May 18, 2017, at its May Open Meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order on a two-one vote, seeking comment on whether it should reform the so-called rural “rate floor” on basic voice service or eliminate it entirely.  The rural rate floor rule requires carriers receiving Connect … Continue Reading

FCC Eases Restrictions on Broadband Deployment Support for Rate-of-Return Carriers; Faces Challenges to Connect America Fund Phase II Auction

As part of its continued focus on accelerating broadband deployment, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) eased restrictions on its universal service support for deployments by rate-of-return carriers in rural and other high-cost areas.  In a unanimous Order on Reconsideration issued at its April meeting, the FCC found that the restrictions drove providers to exclude high-cost … 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

Unpacking the FCC’s Open Meeting: Universal Service Funds, Open Internet and More – February 2017

In February, Chairman Ajit Pai presided over his first major open meeting since becoming chairman, at which the Commission adopted items furthering the FCC’s reverse auctions for Universal Service funding and narrowing the applicability of the Open Internet Order’s transparency requirements.  In this episode of Kelley Drye’s Full Spectrum podcast, Steve Augustino, Avonne Bell, and … Continue Reading
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