In a move affecting nearly every type of dispute brought to the agency, the FCC adopted a Report and Order (“Order”) at its July meeting establishing a streamlined set of formal complaint rules. The new rules cover complaints against common carriers, pole attachment complaints, and complaints involving accessibility for people with disabilities. The revised procedures impose a uniform deadline for answering complaints, eliminate a number of procedural requirements, expand the discovery process, and establish a “shot clock” for FCC decisions. The reforms aim to lower the overall burden on complainants, potentially opening the door to the resolution of more disputes with the FCC instead of in court or elsewhere.

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Even though this blog covers telecom litigation and enforcement, this is the first post about a formal complaint brought before the FCC. Among the reasons are that the FCC does not handle many formal complaints these days (it had only 10 docketed cases in all of 2009), and decisions on the merits are few and far between. But a decision issued last week caught our attention. In the decision, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau took a narrow view of the Telephone Consumers Protection Act (“TCPA”).

The Enforcement Bureau held that unsolicited calls to a consumer were not TCPA violations because the messages were intended for current customers, not as solicitations to obtain new customers. Moreover, the telemarketer’s mistake in directing the calls to a non-customer did not make the calls actionable. This decision will make it harder for a consumer to prove a violation when communications are intended for current customers.


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Yesterday, the FCC released is Broadband Action Agenda describing the purpose and timing of more than 60 rulemakings and other proceedings the agency plans to conduct in order to implement its recently issued National Broadband Plan. On USF, reform of USF distribution is scheduled for 2Q 2010, but contribution reform is not scheduled to begin until the end of the year. Access charges, VoIP and other intercarrier compensation issues are given a 4Q 2010 start date.
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Yesterday, the DC Circuit held oral argument on Comcast’s appeal of the FCC’s ruling that Comcast ilegally blocked P2P traffic in its broadband Internet service.  By all accounts, the argument went poorly for the FCC.  If the FCC indeed loses the case, it could have implications for enforcement of federal Universal Service Fund (USF) contribution