On Wednesday, May 6th, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in a case concerning the scope of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) that is of great interest to businesses and communications industry practitioners. In William P. Barr et al. v. American Association of Political Consultants et al., Case No. 19-631 (2020) (“Barr”) the Supreme Court agreed to review a ruling by the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which declared a 2015 government debt collection exemption unconstitutional and severed the provision from the remainder of the 1991 TCPA. The 2015 amendment exempts calls from the TCPA’s autodialer restriction, if the call relates to the collection of debts guaranteed by the U.S. government. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will consider if: 1) the government-debt exception to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991’s automated-call restriction violates the First Amendment; and 2) whether the proper remedy for any constitutional violation is to sever the exception from the remainder of the statute.

TCPA litigation has largely focused on the autodialer restriction over the past decade. In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) adopted an expansive interpretation of the restriction, which the U.S. Court of Appeals vacated and remanded in 2018. While the industry has waited for the FCC to offer further guidance, entities making calls and sending texts have navigated an environment plagued by uncertainty. Several courts of appeals have adopted conflicting interpretations of the autodialer provision. Meanwhile, the FCC could offer its interpretation at any time, throwing the issue into further litigation in all probability.  In this environment, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the constitutionality of one TCPA exemption in the Barr case. Many are hoping for a decision that goes beyond the 2015 amendment and offers definitive guidance on the autodialer provision’s scope. This post discusses what to expect – and what to watch for – in the Supreme Court’s oral argument this week.


Continue Reading TCPA In Jeopardy? US Supreme Court Reviews Constitutionality

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FCC has been active to keep communications services available through various waivers and actions. Kelley Drye’s Communications practice group is tracking these actions and provides this overview of the key actions impacting enterprise and small business customers of communications services. For additional information on these and other FCC actions, follow Kelley Drye’s CommLaw Monitor, where we post regular updates of the latest regulatory and legislative actions impacting the communications industry.

If you have any questions, please contact your usual Kelley Drye attorney or any member of the Communications Practice Group. For more information on labor, advertising, and other issues, visit Kelley Drye’s COVID-19 Response Resource Center.


Continue Reading COVID-19: What Enterprise and Small Business Customers Need to Know

As COVID-19 has reached pandemic levels, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has been active to keep communications services available through various waivers and actions. Kelley Drye’s Communications practice group is tracking these actions and what they mean for communications service providers. CommLaw Monitor will provide regular updates to its analysis of the latest regulatory and legislative actions impacting your business. Subscribe to receive these alerts.

If you have any questions, please contact your usual Kelley Drye attorney or any member of the Communications Practice Group. For more information on labor, advertising, and other issues, visit Kelley Drye’s COVID-19 Response Resource Center.


Continue Reading COVID-19: What Communications Service Providers Need to Know

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Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced in the Federal Register that July 7, 2015, is the effective date for new consumer booster marketing and labelling rules adopted in its September 2014 reconsideration order which had to first undergo review and approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  The remaining rules modified in the reconsideration order, which we covered in an earlier blog post, became effective on December 28, 2014.
Continue Reading Rules Impacting Marketing, Packaging, and Labelling of Consumer Boosters Clear OMB Hurdle

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A Notice of Apparent Liability issued today by the Federal Communications Commission against AT&T for numerous alleged violations of microwave point-to-point license rules after a lengthy investigation by the Enforcement Bureau, but the two Republican Commissioners took the Commission and Bureau to task for failing to provide transparent factual bases and justifications for both the base violations and also the grounds for proposed upward adjustments.  Commissioner Ajit Pai made a point of concurring and Commissioner Michael O’Reilly concurred in part and dissented in part.


Continue Reading FCC’s Proposed Forfeiture of $640,000 against AT&T for License Violations Stemming from Acquisitions Subject to Republican Criticism

On September 3, 2014, Verizon agreed to pay $7.4 million to resolve an investigation into possible misuse of customers’ personal information in a number of tailored marketing campaigns.  Prompted by a self-disclosure from the company, the FCC investigated Verizon’s use of customers’ subscription and call information to market new services.  Such use is restricted by Section 222 of the Communications Act and the Federal Communications Commission’s CPNI rules.  Verizon’s consent decree is notable for more than its size. 
Continue Reading Verizon Agrees to Pay $7.4 Million to Resolve CPNI Investigation

Earlier this week, the Federal Communications Commission released an order affirming the International Bureau’s 2009 order directing all U.S. facilities-based carriers within the FCC’s jurisdiction to stop payments to Tonga Communications Corporation (“TCC”) for termination of switched voice service (“Stop Payment Order“) on the U.S.-Tonga route. The April 7 Memorandum Opinion and Order affirmed the Bureau’s conclusion that TCC’s significant increase in its rates for terminating traffic on the U.S.-Tonga route – even if ordered by the Tongan government – and its disruption of AT&T’s and Verizon’s circuits to Tonga each constituted anticompetitive conduct that harmed U.S. consumers and were contrary to the public interest. The FCC also rejected TCC’s contention that the Stop Payment Order constituted unauthorized extraterritorial regulation of TCC on the grounds that only U.S. international carriers were subject to the order.
Continue Reading FCC Maintains Suspension of U.S. Carrier Payments on U.S.-Tonga Route

Randy Sifers contributed to this blog post.

On March 14, 2012, the FCC released two consent decrees settling investigations into Verizon’s and Verizon Wireless’s outage reporting practices. Collectively, the two affiliates will pay $200,000 to resolve a Notice of Apparent Liability for filing inaccurate outage reports and possibly other violations. The release of these two settlements confirms that the Enforcement Bureau views the filing of inaccurate or incomplete network outage reports, not just the failure to file outage reports, as significant violations of the Communications Act.


Continue Reading Verizon and Verizon Wireless Pay $200,000 to Settle Outage Reporting Investigations

Last year, we posted a couple of items about outages in Verizon’s 911 call completion systems, and investigations by the FCC and the Maryland PSC.  We thought now would be a good time for an update on those investigations.


Continue Reading FCC Takes No Action Against Verizon 911 Outage; Maryland Still Investigating

It has been a month and a half since we noted that the FCC and Maryland PSC were investigating an incident in which Verizon experienced outages in processing wireless 911 calls to two Maryland counties.  See below for a quick update on the status of each investigation.


Continue Reading Investigations into Verizon 911 Outages Moving Forward