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Focus on Regulation

Tag Archives: FCC

FCC Commissioners Debate Adjustments to Merger Review Standard

In the first major transaction approval under Ajit Pai’s Chairmanship, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) recently approved, subject to targeted, transaction-specific conditions, license and authorization transfers in connection with CenturyLink’s $34 billion acquisition of Level 3.  The FCC’s recitation of its merger review standard in its order (the “CenturyLink-Level 3 Order”) differed somewhat from the description

Much-Needed TCPA Reform Would Support Small Businesses and Spur Economic Benefits

Growing evidence suggests that existing Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) compliance challenges, and the current TCPA litigation landscape, are increasingly a threat to many U.S. companies – particularly small businesses that have fewer resources and could face financial ruin if targeted by a class action lawsuit.  To help address this issue and support the U.S.

New Study Highlights Spike in TCPA Litigation Since 2015 FCC Decision

A new study has found that litigation involving the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) has increased 50 percent since the Federal Communications Commission released its July 2015 “Omnibus” Declaratory Ruling and Order, which had purported to clarify several issues around the agency’s TCPA rules.  As explained below, this continuing trend is one of many reasons

FCC Launches Proceeding to Examine 911 Capabilities of Enterprise-Based 911 Services on Multi-Line Telephone Systems

The FCC intends to launch a new proceeding to examine issues related to 911 capabilities of enterprise-based 911 services provided over multi-line telephone systems (MLTS) and IP-based systems (collectively referred to as “Enterprise Communications Systems” or “ECS”). Last week, the FCC released a draft Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) examining the 911 capabilities of MLTS and

FCC Proposes $82 Million Fine for Illegally “Spoofed” Robocalls

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has adopted a Notice of Apparent Liability (“NAL”) imposing a $82 million penalty against Best Insurance Contracts (d/b/a Wilmington Insurance Quotes) and its owner/operator Philip Roesel for allegedly making more than 21 million prerecorded robocalls with illegally “spoofed” caller ID information in an attempt to sell health insurance.

FCC Extends TCPA Liability to Technology Platform Provider

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has adopted a Forfeiture Order (“Order”) imposing a nearly $2.9 million penalty against Dialing Services, LLC (“Dialing Services”) for making prerecorded voice calls to wireless phones without the “prior express consent” of the called parties.  This Order is notable because the FCC targeted the technology platform provider rather than the

FCC Proposes Increased Service Obligations on Wireless Licensees Seeking Renewal

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has released a draft Second Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on renewal requirements and permanent discontinuance rules for a variety of wireless services.[1]  The Draft Further Notice proposes new rules—such as additional renewal term construction obligations to enhance rural build-out—that, if adopted, would have far-reaching implications

FCC Proposes Historic $120 Million Fine for Illegally “Spoofed” Robocalls

The Federal Communications Commission has proposed a historic $120 million fine against an individual, Mr. Adrian Abramovich, who reportedly made more than 100 million unlawful “spoofed” robocalls in violation of the Truth in Caller ID Act. On June 22, 2017, the Commission approved a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture finding Mr. Abramovich apparently liable

Hook Me Up: Established and Start-up Competitive Providers Find Common Ground Discussing Broadband Deployment Issues

Consumers today expect high-speed access to content, anytime, anywhere.  We often take for granted the ability to leave home, head to work, and travel to many cities, or even across the country, without losing the ability to access high-speed Internet service.  But in many cities, there is only one provider offering broadband Internet, and for

Court of Appeals Upholds FCC’s Open Internet Order

In a major victory for the Federal Communications Commission’s democratic majority, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order on June 14, 2016.  The 2-1 decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals likely is not the last word on net neutrality because broadband service providers will

Quiet Down? US Examines Whether Too Much Noise from Modern-Day Products Might Pose a Risk to Wireless Communications

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) is seeking updated information on how the increased adoption of radiofrequency energy-emitting devices is affecting the level of unwanted RF energy emitted from man-made sources (the “spectrum noise floor”).[1]  The FCC’s Technological Advisory Council (“TAC”) has launched a technical inquiry to study changes to the spectrum noise floor over the

FCC Imposes $1.84 Million TCPA Penalty for Fax Advertisements

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) recently imposed a $1.84 million penalty for sending unsolicited fax advertisements.  According to the agency’s forfeiture order, Scott Malcolm, DSM Supply, LLC and Somaticare, LLC (the “DSM Parties”) sent 115 unsolicited fax advertisements to 26 consumers, primarily health care practitioners, in violation of the FCC’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”)

FCC Workshop Reveals Secrets of 5G

The FCC held a Spectrum Frontiers and 5G Workshop last Thursday that Julius Knapp, Chief of the Office of Engineering & Technology, called a “landmark day” in wireless history.  He likened the event to a similar conference thirty years ago when the industry was transitioning from analog to digital technologies, now referred to as the

FCC Circulates Privacy Rulemaking and Announces Commission Vote

On Thursday, Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) Chairman Tom Wheeler circulated a highly anticipated broadband data privacy and security Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) to the other Commissioners, slating the proposals for a full Commission vote at the agency’s March 31 Open Meeting.  The rules would apply to internet service providers (“ISPs”), but organizations throughout the

The FCC Holds Company Owner Liable for $3.4 Million Forfeiture

The FCC recently adopted an order that fined two companies, Calling 10, and Telseven, as well as the owner of both companies, Patrick Hines, $3.4 million for cramming, deceptive marketing practices, and failing to pay required fees.  The FCC concluded that Mr. Hines “personally participated” in the wrongdoing and formed “sham companies to facilitate the

FCC Harmonizes Pole Attachment Rates

The Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) decision to further harmonize the rates that telecommunications and cable companies pay to attach to “utility” poles was recently published in the Federal Register.  Federal law limits how much pole owners can charge attachers by tying monthly rents to the cost of constructing and maintaining the poles.  These poles are

Sixth Circuit to Hear Oral Argument in Challenge to Municipal Broadband Rules

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled oral argument for March 17, 2016, in an important case regarding the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) ability to preempt state laws that place restrictions on local municipalities’ ability to provide their own broadband networks.  Today, 20 states limit the ability of local governmental agencies, such as utilities

Supreme Court Decision in Gomez Shifts Attention Back to FCC TCPA Petitions

In January, the United States Supreme Court issued a long-awaited ruling in Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, 577 U.S. __ (2016), a significant case for companies defending against consumer and other class actions, including those based on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) – as well as for contractors working on behalf of the federal government.

¡Bienvenidos a Cuba! FCC Removes Cuba from its Exclusion List for International Section 214 Authorizations

Last Friday, the Federal Communications Commission (the “FCC”) adopted an Order making it easier for telecommunications providers to provide facilities-based services such as undersea submarine cables and satellite services, between the United States and Cuba. As Focus on Regulation previously noted, in December 2014 the Obama Administration took executive action to ease trade sanctions and

FCC Launches Redesigned Website; Consumers and Practitioners Rejoice

On Thursday, December 9, the FCC launched its redesigned website, and it is a great improvement over the last incarnation. The FCC website serves two primary purposes.  It is 1) a portal for consumers, companies, legal practitioners, and other stakeholders to interact with the FCC electronically; and 2) a phone book.  The previous website frustrated

FCC Implements Additional Accessibility Requirements for Navigation Devices and Digital Apparatus

Last month, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released its second order (“Second CVAA Order”) further implementing the accessibility goals established in the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (“CVAA”) passed by Congress in 2010.  The Second CVAA Order, which builds on the FCC’s 2013 order (“First CVAA Order”), imposes new requirements on multichannel video

FCC Fines More Companies for Wi-Fi Blocking

On November 2, 2015, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission issued two proposed fines related to Wi-Fi hotspot blocking.   In the first notice the FCC proposed a penalty of $718,000 against M.C. Dean, one of the largest U.S. electrical contracting companies, for allegedly interfering with and disabling the operation of consumers’ Wi-Fi devices at the Baltimore

FCC Considers Whether Title II Protections Apply to SMS Traffic

In a recent Public Notice, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) sought comment on a Petition filed by Twilio Inc. (“Twilio”) requesting clarification that short message service (“SMS”) messages are regulated under Title II of the Communications Act.  The regulatory treatment of SMS messages has come to a head because of the FCC’s recent reclassification of