United States: Telecom Deadlines And Headlines - September 2014

This Telecom Deadlines and Headlines advises you of upcoming deadlines for your Annual Regulatory Fees submission and 477s, as well as ETCs' deadline to comply with the one-per-household rule, and recaps recent agency and judicial actions regarding the TCPA and rural broadband.

Key Regulatory Dates

FCC Annual Regulatory Fee Due September 23, 2014

  • The FCC has announced that its Annual Regulatory Fees are due Tuesday, September 23, 2014. All FCC licensees, with some very limited exceptions, must pay this fee. Payments must be received by the FCC by 11:59 PM on that day or be subject to a mandatory 25 percent late-payment fee. All Interstate Telecommunications Service Providers (ITSPs) and other FCC licensees must log into the Commission's Fee Filer System in order to review their invoices. No paper bills will be sent. Further, the FCC will only accept payment of the Annual Regulatory Fee electronically.

    Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) Providers are encouraged to log into the Fee Filer System to confirm their line counts as soon as possible. If there is a discrepancy, CMRS providers have until September 10, 2014 to request that the FCC revise the count. Any revisions made after September 10 will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

    The proposed assessment rate for ITSP's is 0.00340, while the proposed assessment for CMRS providers is 0.08 per user. Both of these rates will become final upon publication in the Federal Register. Assessment rates for other FCC licensees can be found here.

    The Public Notice announcing this deadline can be found here. The Fee Filer System can be found here. For more information, please contact Katherine Barker Marshall, Joseph P. Bowser, or the Arent Fox professional who handles your matters. (DA 14-1261)

FCC Announces Process for Eliminating Duplicative Claims for Lifeline Support

  • The FCC has announced that the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) has developed a process by which Eligible Telecommunications Carriers (ETC) that provide Lifeline services can resolve inter-company household duplicate services found during the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) loading process. Under this process, USAC will provide ETCs with a list of subscribers with inter-company household duplicates. The ETCs then must contact their subscribers to remind them of the "one-per-household" obligation, explain the eligibility requirements for qualifying as a household, and attempt to obtain a household worksheet from those subscribers who meet the requirements. Subscribers who do not complete a valid household worksheet and return it to their ETC will be un-enrolled from the Lifeline program by their ETC. ETCs have until December 23, 2014 to obtain valid household worksheets from their subscribers identified by USAC as an inter-company duplicate. ETCs are required to un-enroll any subscriber who fails to provide a valid household worksheet by December 30, 2014, and update the NLAD regarding the status of all subscribers identified by USAC by December 31, 2014. A copy of the Public Notice outlining this process can be found here. More detailed information about this process can be found on USAC's website here. For more information, please contact Katherine Barker Marshall, Joseph P. Bowser, or the Arent Fox professional who handles your matters. (DA 14-1234)

FCC Form 477 Due October 1, 2014

  • The Local Telephone Competition and Broadband Report, commonly known as FCC Form 477, is due October 1, 2014, and reports on connections as of June 30, 2014. Entities that are required to file FCC Form 477 include: Providers of wired or fixed wireless local exchange services; facilities-based providers of broadband connections to end users; providers of interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services to end users, and facilities-based mobile providers. Filers are also required to utilize the new portal for filing FCC Form 477. More information can be found here. For more information, please contact Katherine Barker Marshall, Joseph P. Bowser, or the Arent Fox professional who handles your matters.

Key Industry Events

Next USAC E-rate Applicant Training, September 29, 2014, Washington, DC

  • The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) has announced workshops for schools, libraries, and consortia that plan to apply for funding from the Schools and Libraries Program, commonly known as E-rate. The workshops are complimentary and identical, and will take place in various cities throughout the country this fall. The next workshop is in Washington, DC. More information about the workshops, as well as registration information, can be found here.

Comptel PLUS, October 5–8, 2014, Dallas, Texas

  • For more information on Comptel's Fall 2014 Convention and Expo, which several Arent Fox attorneys will be attending, click here.

CTIA West Legal Seminar, November 6–7, 2014, Seattle, Washington

  • For more information on this event, at which Arent Fox's Michael B. Hazzard will be speaking on class actions and other litigation issues, please contact Michael B. Hazzard.

News Roundup

District Court Rejects Web-Based Text Messaging Service's Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction

  • On August 26, 2014, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denied Voiceshot LLC's ("Voiceshot") motion to dismiss a complaint alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA") for lack of personal jurisdiction. Voiceshot provides internet-based text messaging services. It is a Delaware LLC with a principal place of business in Michigan, and it has no servers in Illinois. The plaintiff, an Illinois citizen, alleged that Kale Realty, an Illinois company, had used Voiceshot's services to send him unsolicited text messages. The court agreed that there was no general jurisdiction over Voiceshot based on the allegations in the complaint. However, the court rejected Voiceshot's argument that it lacked sufficient contacts with Illinois for the exercise of specific jurisdiction, noting that Voiceshot's services were generally available over the internet and that Voiceshot had contracted with Kale Realty, an Illinois company, to send text messages into Illinois. Voiceshot had thus purposely availed itself of the benefits of doing business in Illinois. As the plaintiff's alleged injuries arose out of these contacts with Illinois, he had established a prima facie case for specific personal jurisdiction. Payton v. Kale Realty, LLC, 13 C 8002, 2014 WL 4214917 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 26, 2014).

    For more information, please contact Radhika Bhat, Joseph P. Bowser, or the Arent Fox professional who handles your matters.

FCC Seeks Comment on Compliance with Opt-Out Requirements for Fax Solicitations

  • On August 29, 2014, the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau released a public notice seeking comment on a petition for declaratory ruling and/or waiver filed by Unique Vacations, Inc. related to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the opt-out notices required for fax advertisements. The Bureau set deadlines for initial comments of September 12, 2014, while reply comments are due September 19, 2014. In its petition, Unique contents that the FCC lacks authority to regulate "solicited" faxes sent with the recipient's prior express invitation or permission. Unique therefore asks for a ruling that a fax sent pursuant to the recipient's prior express invitation or permission substantially complies with the FCC's rules if it provides instructions on the first page explaining how to opt out of future faxes, "even if the opt out notice does not conform verbatim with the letter of the rule defining the opt out notice required for unsolicited faxes." A copy of Unique's petition can be found here. For more information or for assistance in filing comments, please contact Adam D. Bowser or Joseph P. Bowser, or the Arent Fox professional who handles your matters.

Applications for Participation in Rural Broadband Experiments Due October 14

  • The Wireline Competition Bureau has announced that entities that wish to participate in its Rural Broadband Experiments must file their applications by 6 PM Eastern time on Tuesday, October 14, 2014. The Bureau will not accept applications through the Electronic Filing System, nor will it accept hard copy applications. Rather, applications will be filed and processed through the Commission's Auction System. Applications will include information about the proposed project, bid forms for the proposed project, a descriptive data form, basic information about the applicant, and certifications required by the Commission.

    The Commission has adopted a budget of $100 million for funding experiments in both extremely high-cost price-cap areas, as well as high-cost areas. These experiments are focused on bringing scalable voice and broadband-capable networks to small business and residential locations in rural communities. The Public Notice describing this process and the monies available for specific projects in detail can be found here. For more information, please contact Katherine Barker Marshall, Joseph P. Bowser, or the Arent Fox professional who handles your matters. (DA 14-1203)

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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