Full Spectrum’s “Inside the TCPA” podcast series offers a deeper focus on TCPA issues and petitions pending before the FCC. Each episode tackles a single TCPA topic or petition that is in the news or affecting cases around the country. In this episode, partner Steve Augustino discusses efforts by the FCC and private industry to

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 Order implements a number of proposals made in March 2017 (for more see our earlier post).  With the Order, the FCC adopts rules that enable voice service providers to block calls from invalid, unallocated, and unassigned numbers before they ever reach a consumer’s phone, while the FNPRM seeks input on ways to make sure that blocking does not impact lawful calling practices. FNPRM comments are due by January 23, 2018 and reply comments by February 22, 2018.

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On Wednesday, May 17, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or the Commission) published in the Federal Register a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) which aims to develop rules and solutions to reduce the number of illegal robocalls placed to consumers.  The NPRM was adopted at the Commission’s March open meeting.

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On September 30th, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) released a brief Public Notice in which it clarified that telephone service providers (including traditional, wireless and VoIP providers) are permitted to block calls from a particular phone number if the subscriber to that phone number

stock_12192012_0878The FCC’s high-profile efforts with regard to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) continue.   In addition to two controversial orders released in the last two weeks, the FCC is pushing the telecommunications industry to take action on blocking techniques.  Now the FCC has announced that it will host a meeting for what is billed as an industry-led “Robocall Strike Force.”  The Strike Force was created after Chairman Wheeler took to the FCC blog to prod the industry to action.

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Responding to complaints by rural LECs that call blocking has increased, the FCC yesterday issued a clarification and a stern warning to carriers not to block, choke or restrict calls to other carriers’ customers. While call completion issues can occur for a variety of reasons, allegations of “blocking” have arisen in a number of access charge disputes and other forms of telecommunications litigation that we track.

The FCC’s declaratory ruling serves as a warning that carriers involved in such disputes should not intentionally block or restrict the ability of callers to reach their intended destinations. It also appears to create affirmative obligations to correct call completion problems that are occurring.


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In response to yesterday’s announcement that BART, the San Francisco area transit authority, modified its cell phone blocking policy, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced that the FCC would soon be taking action as well.  Genachowski pledged an "open, public process" to provide guidance on lawful wireless service blocking.

If opened, this will be the first formal proceeding the FCC has undertaken to address lawful blocking of wireless signals.  In the past, the FCC staunchly denied any requests to sanction wireless call blocking. 

UPDATE:  This SF Chronicle report states that the FCC commented on BART’s policy before it was adopted.  According to the report, the FCC suggested language recognizing that an interruption poses risks to public safety and that the benefits of a shut down should outweigh the risks to public safety.  While a BART official correctly notes that this is not an endorsement of the policy, it signals an openness (in limited circumstances) to a shut down that the FCC has not shown before.


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