Steve Augustino

Steve Augustino

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USF Update: Where Are We Now?

In 2017, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report focusing on the Lifeline program. Tucked away in that report was a significant discussion of Universal Service Fund (USF) contributor audits that has received little attention. In a recent episode of Kelley Drye’s Full Spectrum podcast, Partner Steve Augustino and Special Counsel Denise Smith discussed … Continue Reading

Ready, Set, Bid: FCC Announces July Start Date for Auction to Provide Support for Voice and Fixed Broadband in Unserved High-Cost Areas

At the January Open Meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) adopted a Public Notice (“PN”) that sets July 24, 2018 as the start of the Connect America Fund Phase II auction (“Phase II Auction”) in which service providers can compete for up to $1.98 billion annually in financial support over 10 years.  This will be … 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

The End of the Internet? What to Expect after the FCC’s 3-2 Vote to Restore Internet Freedom

On December 14, 2017, the FCC voted 3-2 to roll back the 2015 Open Internet Order, with all Republican commissioners voting in favor of the item and both Democratic commissioners strongly dissenting.  As we discussed in an earlier blog post in anticipation of the vote, the Restoring Internet Freedom Order (1) reclassifies broadband Internet access … Continue Reading

FCC Votes on Possible Changes to the Rural Health Care Program

At its last open meeting in 2017, the five FCC Commissioners unanimously voted to adopt a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and Order regarding the Commission’s Rural Health Care (RHC) Program, a 20-year old initiative aimed at improving rural health care provider access to first telecommunications services and later an array of communications services, including … Continue Reading

Fulfilling Pledge Made in May, Chairman Pai and FCC Approve New Blue Alerts, Similar to Amber Alerts, to Notify About Threats to Law Enforcement Personnel

At the December Open Meeting of the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”), the Commissioners approved a Report and Order (“Order”) that adopts a new form of emergency alerting, Blue Alerts, which would serve to inform the public of actionable threats to state or local law enforcement.  Once the new alert is implemented, radio and TV broadcasters … Continue Reading

Escaping the Twilight Zone – FCC Aims to Expedite Wireless Deployment by Exempting Twilight Towers from Historic Preservation Review

Consistent with Chairman Pai’s focus on accelerating infrastructure deployment to enable next generation wireless services, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) unanimously opened at its monthly meeting on December 14, 2017 a proceeding to exempt wireless communications equipment from historic preservation requirements under certain conditions.  The FCC’s action is directed at enabling operations on … Continue Reading

What to Expect from the FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order

This Thursday, December 14th, the FCC will vote on the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, after releasing a draft on November 22nd. The Draft Order would overturn the FCC’s earlier 2015 Open Internet Order. We don’t expect any bombshell revisions when the FCC acts, and as such we expect that the Order will:… Continue Reading

On the Eve of the FCC’s Reclassification of Broadband Services, the FCC and FTC Release Memorandum of Understanding for Oversight of Broadband

On December 11, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which will allocate oversight and enforcement authority related to broadband Internet access service (BIAS) between the two agencies.  The new MOU was announced three days before the FCC’s scheduled vote to reclassify BIAS as … Continue Reading

FCC Permits Limited Blocking to Curb Unlawful Robocalls; Challenge Process, Effectiveness Teed Up for Further Evaluation

At the November Open Meeting of the Federal Communications Commission (“Commission” or “FCC”), Commissioners approved a Report and Order (“Order”) and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“FNPRM”) that targets a high-priority issue for Chairman Pai – curbing illegal telemarketing and other calls.  Acting with unusual speed (at least, by the standards of past Commissions), the … 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

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, … 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 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 … 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

It’s Official: The Old CPNI Rules Are Back in Effect

Today the Office of Federal Register published a final rule from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) that formally voids the rule changes in the Commission’s 2016 Privacy Order—which Congress invalidated in a 2017 Congressional Review Act (CRA) joint resolution earlier this year—and reinstates the voice-centric customer proprietary network information (CPNI) rules “in effect immediately prior to the effect … 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

Proposed Fourth Quarter 2017 Universal Service Fund Contribution Factor Jumps – Poised to Hit New High

On September 12, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission’s (Commission) Office of the Managing Director (OMD) released a Public Notice proposing a universal service fund (USF) contribution factor of 18.8% for fourth quarter 2017.  This proposed contribution factor would be the highest rate since the USF program’s inception and likely reflects the impact of the declining … Continue Reading

August 2017 FCC Meeting Recap: Commission Sets Reverse Auction Procedures for CAF Phase II Auction

At its August Open Meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a Public Notice (“Notice”) that addresses the procedures for its upcoming Connect America Fund (“CAF”) Phase II auction (“Auction” or “Auction 903”), scheduled to begin in 2018. Auction 903 will be a competitive reverse auction wherein service providers will compete for up to $1.98 billion … 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
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