On November 2, 2021, the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC’s) Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (“Bureau”) published a public notice in the Federal Register focused on asking whether the 71-76 GHz, 81-86 GHz, 92-94 GHz, and the 94.1-95 GHz bands (“70/80/90 GHz Bands”) could be used “to provide broadband Internet access to consumers and communities that may otherwise lack robust, consistent connectivity.” The Commission is particularly interested whether stratospheric-based platforms, such as High Altitude Platform Stations (“HAPS”), which operate above twenty kilometers (approximately 65,000 feet), could be deployed for this purpose in the 70/80/90 GHz Bands.  Comments are due by December 2, 2021, and replies by January 3, 2022.

Continue Reading Looking to the Skies: The FCC Seeks Additional Information on Potential Stratospheric-Based Communications Platforms and Services

For the second time this year, the TCPA came before the Supreme Court via teleconference oral argument in Facebook, Inc. v. Duguid, et al, Case No. 19-511 (2020). The Supreme Court’s disposition of Facebook’s petition is expected to resolve a widening Circuit split over what qualifies as an automatic telephone dialing system (“ATDS”) under the TCPA, 47 U.S.C. § 227, et seq., and thus determine much of the scope of the TCPA’s calling restrictions.

Continue Reading Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument Over the TCPA’s Definition of an Autodialer

Slamming cases are a rarity these days, but this settlement is noteworthy not because it involves slamming, but because of the unusual remedies the FCC required in its consent decree.

The case involves two Notices of Apparent Liability issued to companies now under common ownership, Horizon Telecom, Inc. and Reduced Rate Long Distance, LLC.  In Horizon, the Commission proposed a fine of $5,084,000 for slamming.  In Reduced Rate, the Commission proposed a fine of $8,000 for failing to respond to two informal consumer complaints.  Both NALs were issued in 2008.  Yesterday, the Enforcement Bureau released a consent decree settling the two cases.

What is so unusual about the settlement?

Continue Reading FCC Settles Slamming Case with Unusual Remedies

 On December 7, the FCC adopted a consent decree with an international carrier resolving several alleged transfers of FCC authorizations without prior approval.  This marks the latest in a series of enforcement actions in the area of ownership violations.  Many of these involve carriers providing foreign terminations.   The consent decree underscores the importance for all regulated carriers to monitor changes in ownership, even pro forma changes, and to seek prior FCC approval for the changes. 

Continue Reading International Carrier Settles Transfer of Control Violations with FCC

Yesterday, the FCC proposed another $5 million fine for insufficient disclosures on prepaid calling cards.  This action is best understood as an echo to the FCC’s action in September, when it proposed four similar $5 million fines against other prepaid calling card providers.  In fact, I believe that this NAL has been circulating at the FCC since shortly before the other four NALs were released.

2011 has been highlighted by an active FCC using Section 201(b) of the Act to engage in consumer-focused enforcement.  Although the FCC’s authority to use 201(b) in this way is in doubt, the lesson for carriers is clear, especially in the prepaid market.  Carriers should clearly and conspicuously disclose all material terms and conditions of their services.  Failure to do so risks claims of deceptive marketing or cramming. 

Continue Reading FCC Proposes Another $5 Million Prepaid Card Fine

For a while, failure to pay per-call compensation to payphone owners was as much of an enforcement focus as is failure to pay the Universal Service Fund today.  The FCC resolved one of its legacy cases this week, agreeing to a settlement with prepaid card provider Compass, Inc. d/b/a Compass Global Inc.  Notably, the Bureau settled the $466,000 NAL for $20,000 based in part on an inability to pay.

Continue Reading Prepaid Card Provider Settles Payphone Compensation NAL

There has not been an official announcement, but indications are strong that the FCC is planning soon to issue a number of forfeitures and proposed forfeitures for the sending of so-called "junk faxes."  Under the Telephone Consumers Protection Act of 1991 ("TCPA"), it is unlawful to send "unsolicited advertisements" via facsimile.  In the past two