United States: Telecom Deadlines And Headlines - July 22, 2014

Last Updated: August 6 2014
Article by Ross A. Buntrock

This Telecom Deadlines and Headlines advises you of fast-approaching deadlines for various reporting requirements, and recaps recent court and agency action on TCPA and broadband issues.

KEY REGULATORY DATES

International Traffic Reports Due July 31, 2014

  • The International Bureau has released a reminder that International Traffic Reports, required by Section 43.61(a) of the Commission's Rules, are due July 31, 2014. All common carriers that provided international telecommunications services during 2013 are required to file the report, regardless of the amount of traffic provided by the carrier. Common carriers that provided international message telephone services (IMTS) resale traffic with less than $5,000,000 in revenue in 2013 need only provide a transmittal letter, identifying the filing entity, filing date, reporting period and state that the entity earned less than $5,000,000 in revenue for the service. Common carriers that earned more than $5,000,0000 for resale IMTS service are required to file a transmittal letter with the same information, and provide the total number of IMTS resale minutes and customer revenue. Similarly, common carriers that provided international miscellaneous services need only provide a transmittal letter identifying the filing entity, filing date, reporting period and state that the entity earned less than $5,000,000 in revenue for the service, while those providing miscellaneous international telecommunications services earning in excess of $5,000,000 from such services must file a transmittal letter identifying the filing entity, filing date, reporting period and state that the entity provided earned in excess than $5,000,000 in revenue for the service, and identify the service, describe the service and the amount of revenue derived from the service. A copy of the Public Notice, outlining the requirements can be found here (DA 14-859).

FCC Form 499-Q Due August 1, 2014

  • Form 499-Q is due August 1, 2014 for all filers that are not considered de minimis for Universal Service filing purposes. This filing encompasses historical revenues from the second quarter of 2014 and projected revenues for the fourth quarter of 2014. A copy of the current FCC Form 499-Q can be found here. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers and Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) providers who rely on traffic studies to report interstate revenues on FCC Form 499-Q must submit these studies by August 1, 2014 to the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) and the Chief, Industry Analysis and Technology Division of the FCC.

Numbering Resource Utilization/Forecast Due August 1, 2014

  • Carriers that received numbers from the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA), another telecommunications carrier, or a Pooling Administrator are required to complete FCC Form 502 by August 1, 2014. NANPA is required to collect, store and maintain number resources forecast utilization data. More information can be found here.

Connect America Fund Phase II Challenges Due August 14, 2014

  • The Wireline Competition Bureau has opened the challenge process of Phase II of the Connect America Fund for price cap territories. Parties wishing to participate have until August 14, 2014 to file their initial challenges with the Bureau. The Bureau has released its list of census blocks that are 1) located in price cap territories; 2) "high cost" according to the adopted Connect America Cost Model, which states that the census block has a calculated average cost per location above $52.50 and below $207.81; and (3) shown as unserved by an unsubsidized competitor. Challenges may only be based on whether the block is served by an unsubsidized competitor. Challengers must use FCC Form 505 to file a challenge in WC Docket 14-93. The Public Notice announcing the opening of the process can be found here, and the process in general can be found here. (DA 14-942)

KEY INDUSTRY EVENTS

Mobile Media Summit, July 29, 2014, Chicago

  • For more information on the Mobile Media Summit at the Mid-America Club in Chicago, click here.

FCC Open Commission Meeting, August 8, 2014, Washington, DC

  • For more information on the Commission's next Open Meeting, in which the Commission is slated to take on the Nationwide Text-to-911 issue, among others, click here.

Super Wi-Fi Summit, August 12–14, 2014, Las Vegas

  • Arent Fox partner Ross A. Buntrock will be speaking at the Super Wi-Fi Summit in Las Vegas. For more information, click here.

NEWS ROUNDUP

FCC Allocating $100 Million for Rural Broadband Experiments

  • The FCC voted recently to allocate $100 million of funding for rural broadband experiments. $75 million will be allocated for higher-speed projects (at least 25 megabits per second downstream/5 Mbps upstream) and the remaining amounts will be available for lower-speed projects. Those who receive the funds can deploy a variety of technologies, including fiber and wireless networks, or networks that rely on electric utility lines. The Commission expects to select recipients using a "reverse auction" system, with selection based on the cost-effectiveness of the projects. Entities that commit to serving tribal lands will receive a 25% bidding credit. Applications will be due October 9, 2014. More information, including the full order, is available here.

FCC Ruling Sought on Revocation Rights, if Any, Under the TCPA

  • On July 10, 2014, Santander Consumer USA, Inc. filed a petition for expedited declaratory ruling with the FCC asking the agency to issue a ruling holding that consumers cannot revoke their "prior express consent" to receive autodialed informational calls to their cell phones under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Alternatively, Santander requests that if the FCC decides that the TCPA permits consumers to revoke their prior express consent, calling companies should be permitted to designate one or more methods that a consumer must use, such as in writing at the mailing address designated by the caller, in order for the revocation of consent to be considered effective. Santander asserts that nowhere in the TCPA or in the FCC's implementing regulations is there a right for consumers to revoke their consent to receive autodialed non-telemarketing calls. Courts, however, have held that such consent is revocable, leading consumers to file TCPA class action lawsuits where the "only issue is whether the consumer's allegation that he or she 'verbally revoked' consent ... is sufficient to establish a violation." Santander argues that even the most sophisticated compliance management system "cannot prevent against this type of claim or the enormous exposure it creates" because companies are forced to prove a negative, i.e., the consumer did not verbally revoke his or consent. A copy of Santander's petition can be found here.

Sixth Circuit Affirms Grant of Summary Judgment to TCPA Plaintiffs

  • On July 9, 2014 the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed a grant of summary judgment to the plaintiffs in a Telephone Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA") class action over unsolicited fax advertisements. The case involves thousands of unsolicited faxes sent to thousands of unique fax numbers over the course of three days by a fax broadcaster hired by the defendant. The district court approved a class consisting of anyone who was sent the defendant's fax advertisement. The district court subsequently granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs on the TCPA claim.

    On appeal, the defendant argued that the class was too broad, as it included (1) people who may not have received a fax and (2) people who may not be the actual owners of the fax machines. The defendant contended that only the fax machines' owners have standing to assert a TCPA claim. The Sixth Circuit rejected the defendant's arguments, holding that the TCPA does not impose any such ownership requirement and noting that unsolicited fax advertisements impose costs on all recipients in the form of wasted time and burdens on commerce. The court also held that there was no evidence presented to support the defendant's argument that a fax could be successfully sent without being received. Last, the Sixth Circuit rejected the defendant's claim that a Michigan state court rule preventing TCPA suits from being maintained as class actions in state court would also bar this class action in federal court. Am. Copper & Brass, Inc. v. Lake City Indus. Products, Inc., 13-2605, 2014 WL 3317736 (6th Cir. July 9, 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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