United States: Telecom Deadlines And Headlines - June 24, 2014

Last Updated: June 26 2014
Article by Ross A. Buntrock

Key Regulatory Dates

Wireline Competition Bureau Announces Proposed NANPA Contribution Factor and Fund Estimate, effective June 27, 2014

  • The Wireline Competition Bureau has announced the estimate of the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA) fund size and contribution factor for Fiscal Year 2014, which starts on July 1, 2014. All telecommunications carriers and interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers are required to contribute to numbering administration. The proposed rate for Fiscal Year 2014 is $0.0000365 per assessable dollar. This rate will be considered effective as of June 27, 2014 if the Commission takes no further action. A copy of the Public Notice can be found here.

FCC Seeks Comment on Annual Regulatory Fees; Opening Comments Due July 7, 2014

  • The FCC requests comment on its proposed methodologies for allocating and collecting its annual regulatory fees from its licensees. Initial comments are due July 7, 2014, with reply comments due July 14, 2014. In its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Commission proposes to reduce its assessment rate for Interstate Telecommunications Service Providers (ITSPs), which include interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers, local exchange and interexchange carriers, to $0.00340 per assessable dollar, and an increase in the rate Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) service providers pay to a rate of $0.18 per subscriber. As a reminder, the FCC no longer accepts checks and hardcopy forms (such as FCC Form 159-W) for payment of regulatory fees. This change is made in accordance with the Office of Management and Budget's Open Government Directive, which requires the US Treasury to move towards paperless payment processes. A copy of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which also proposes annual regulatory fees for other FCC Licensees, can be found here.

FCC Announces Opening of FCC Form 477 Filing Interface as of July 31, 2014

  • The FCC has announced that the filing interface for the FCC Form 477 will open July 31, 2014 for data as of June 30, 2014. The deadline to complete the filing is October 1, 2014. The interface is delayed from its normal opening of July 1 because of the significant changes in reporting requirements, primarily related to fixed and mobile broadband deployment information that was previously collected by National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The Public Notice announcing the delay can be found here.

FCC Proposes Third Quarter USF Assessment Rate, Effective June 27, 2014

  • The FCC has proposed a Universal Service Fund assessment rate of 15.7% for the third quarter of 2014. If the Commission takes no action prior to June 27, 2014, this rate will be deemed to be approved. A copy of the Public Notice announcing the rate can be found here.

Key Industry Events

Senior Attorney Katherine Barker Marshall to Moderate July 1, 2014 Panel on 10th Circuit Decision on FCC Connect America Fund Order

  • Senior Attorney Katherine Barker Marshall will moderate the Federal Communications Bar Association's State and Local Practice Committee's Continuing Legal Education panel discussion entitled "10th Circuit Upholds FCC's Universal Service and Inter-carrier Compensation Transformational Order: What's Next" on July 1, 2014. This CLE will examine the prospects for further appeal and the implications of the decision going forward for the FCC's regulation of broadband as well as broader implications for Chevron deference to federal agency decisions. More information can be found here.

FCC Open Commission Meeting, July 11, 2014

  • The FCC's next open meeting will be held on July 11, 2014. The Commission plans to address an effort to modernize the E-rate program, rural broadband experiments, and closed captioning of IP-delivered video clips. For more information on the meeting, including the tentative agenda, click 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.

News Roundup

FCC Proposes Record Fine for Chinese Manufacturer of Cell Phone Jammer

  • The FCC announced last week a proposed fine of nearly $35 million for C.T.S. Technology Company, a Chinese manufacturer that marketed cell phone signal jamming devices to U.S. consumers for a period of two years. If the fine is finalized, it would be the largest such fine in FCC history. Travis LeBlanc, acting chief of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau, said that "signal jammers present a direct danger to public safety, potentially blocking the communications of first responders." According to the FCC, C.T.S. misled consumers by representing that the jammers were certified by the FCC when, in fact, they are illegal. More information is available here.

DC Circuit Vacates Select Telecommunication Relay Services Rules

  • On June 20, 2014 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated an interim order and vacated in part a final order promulgated by the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") concerning telecommunication relay services ("TRS"). The orders were a response to the practices of Sorenson Communications, a provider of Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service ("IP CTS"). IP CTS allows the hearing impaired to read captions of what the other party is saying on a specialized telephone with a display screen. In an effort to expand its market presence, and unlike its competitors, Sorenson Communications provided these specialized telephones for free. Concerned about IP CTS misuse and the impact it could have on the TRS Fund, the FCC promulgated interim rules without notice and comment, citing the above concerns as sufficient "good cause" under the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA") for doing so. It then went on to make the bulk of these rules permanent in a final order eight months later. The D.C. Circuit vacated the interim order in full. It held that the FCC lacked "good cause" under the APA for bypassing notice and comment, as it had made no factual findings demonstrating that the TRS Fund faced a fiscal emergency. The court then went on to vacate two challenged portions of the final rules: specifically, (1) that all IP CTS phones cost at least $75 unless provided as part of a state program and (2) that providers generally distribute such phones with captions turned off by default. The court found that both rules lacked satisfactory justification and explanation, noting that it was unclear how either rule served to reduce possible IP CTS fraud. Sorenson Commc'ns Inc. v. F.C.C., 13-1122, 2014 WL 2782211 (D.C. Cir. June 20, 2014).

Chairman Wheeler Sets Goals for Reform of E-Rate Program

  • On June 20, 2014, the Chairman of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, distributed a draft order to the other FCC Commissioners related to modernizing the E-rate program to ensure that more funding is available for Wi-Fi service. This particular proposal is set to be considered at the FCC's July 11, 2014 meeting. Commissioner Wheeler's proposal would propose changes for the 2015 funding year, beginning with at least $1 billion in support set aside for Wi-Fi connections over each of the next two years, with "predictable support continuing in future years," according to an FCC fact sheet on the proposal. The Chairman's Fact Sheet is available here.

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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