United States: Telecom Deadlines And Headlines - June 10, 2014

Last Updated: June 10 2014
Article by Ross A. Buntrock

This Telecom Deadlines & Headlines reminds you of the upcoming adjustments to the FCC's new application filing fees, highlights upcoming telecom industry events, and recaps recent FCC and judicial activity on rural call-completion and TCPA issues.

KEY REGULATORY DATES

FCC Announces July 3, 2014 Effective Date for New Application Filing Fees

  • The FCC has announced that its new Application Filing Fee Schedules will go into effect on July 3, 2014. Section 8(a) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, requires that the Commission review its Application Filing Fees every two years and adjust the fees to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers. 47 U.S.C. §8(a). A copy of the Order can be found here. The Public Notice announcing the effective date of the Application Filing Fee Schedules can be found here. (DA 14-24 and DA 14-751)

FCC Workshop on Inmate Calling Services Rates, July 10, 2014

  • The FCC has announced that it will hold a workshop on Wednesday, July 9, 2014, to gather information concerning state efforts to reform inmate calling services (ICS), the cost characteristics of providing services to different correctional facilities, as well as the use of non-traditional communications technologies in prisons. The workshop follows the September 26, 2013 adoption of interim rules for interstate ICS in Rates for Interstate Inmate Calling Services, WC Docket No. 12-375, which was mostly stayed by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals pending the resolution of a challenge to those rules. The workshop will be held in the Commission Meeting Room (TW-C305), 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554. Details concerning the agenda and panelists are available here. The workshop will be free and open to the public, and will also be streamed live here.

Comments Due July 15, 2014 in FCC Open Internet Proceeding

  • For more information on the comment-cycle deadlines and issues being debated in the FCC's closely watched Open Internet proceeding, click here.

KEY INDUSTRY EVENTS

FCC Open Commission Meeting, June 13, 2014, 10:30 AM

  • For more information on the FCC's next open meeting, which will include an update on the efforts to transition circuit-switched networks to Internet Protocol (IP) networks, as well as the tentative agenda, click here.

BIG Telecom Event, Chicago, June 17–18, 2014

  • For more information on this event, styled as Next-Gen Tech Meets Business Logic, click here.

FCC Workshop on Prevention of Mobile Device Theft, June 19, 2014, 9:30 AM

  • For more information on this workshop, which will be held in the Commission Meeting Room and focus on developing practical consumer-oriented technical solutions to deter device theft and making more standardized and accessible data available for mobile device crime reporting for law enforcement and other uses, click here.

NEWS ROUNDUP

Rural Call Completion Problems Prove Costly for Matrix Telecom

  • The FCC's Enforcement Bureau has announced a settlement with Texas-based Matrix Telecom, Inc., to resolve an investigation into whether the company failed to properly complete long-distance calls to rural areas. Matrix has agreed to pay $875,000 and implement a three-year compliance plan. According to the FCC, the Bureau began investigating Matrix (and related entities Excel Telecommunications and Vartec Telecom) as a result of complaints from consumers and rural carriers. During the course of the investigation, the Bureau obtained and examined months of call completion data from Matrix's retail and wholesale operations. Matrix has now reduced the number of intermediate providers (otherwise referred to as "least cost routers") that it uses to deliver long-distance calls to rural areas and has made investments to upgrade its network. Following the announcement, Senators Jon Thune (R. S.D.) and Tim Johnson (D. S.D.) both issued statements supporting the FCC's enforcement action against Matrix Telecom. More information, including the settlement agreement, is available here.

TCPA Plaintiff Seeks FCC Declaratory Ruling That Individual Defendant's Parts Can Make a Whole ATDS

  • On May 27, 2014, a plaintiff in a federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) class action filed a petition for declaratory ruling with the FCC asking the agency to clarify what equipment falls within the scope of an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS). The plaintiff alleges that Air2Web transmitted the messages on behalf of a salon promoting a sale for its services and that the combined technology of the companies in the transmission path constitutes an ATDS. The plaintiff also asserts that the dialing equipment itself need not be capable of storing or producing the telephone numbers to be called, but rather the telecommunications equipment as a whole along the path of a call needs to be considered as an ATDS. To view the petition, click here.

Eleventh Circuit Affirms TCPA Liability for Calling a Number Given by Defendant's Customer That Was No Longer Their Number When the Calls Were Made

  • On June 5, 2014, the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed a district court's partial grant of summary judgment against Wells Fargo, finding that Wells Fargo violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). At issue were a series of phone calls made by Wells Fargo to a cell phone number. The cell phone account was held by Lynn Breslow, and the phone itself was used by her child. Wells Fargo, however, had not been trying to reach either of them. Instead, Wells Fargo had been attempting to reach a former customer who had listed the cell phone number on an account application. Wells Fargo argued that the intended recipient of its phone calls — the former customer — was the "called party" for the purposes of the TCPA. As its former customer had consented to receive calls, Wells Fargo contended that there was no violation of the TCPA. The Eleventh Circuit rejected Wells Fargo's arguments, holding that neither the language of the statute nor the legislative history supported the idea that "called party" refers to the intended recipient. The Eleventh Circuit then went on to agree with the Seventh Circuit in finding that the "called party" under the TCPA is the subscriber or user of the cell phone. The court also rejected the argument that a former subscriber's consent to be called was effective until the new subscriber or user revoked that consent. Breslow v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 12-14564, 2014 WL 2523091 (11th Cir. June 5, 2014).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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