Selected portions of the BloostonLaw Telecom Update, a newsletter from the Law Offices of Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP are reproduced in this section with the firm's permission.
The FCC has announced that Sharon Gillett will be stepping down as Chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau to return to the Boston area. Julie Veach, currently Deputy General Counsel in the Office of General Counsel, will serve as Chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau, effective June 30.
Comment Dates Set For NOI On Aerial Communications
The FCC has adopted a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) to explore the use of Deployable Aerial Communications Architecture (DACA) technologies. At last week’s open meeting, the FCC said DACA technologies are aerial technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles, weather balloons or existing aircraft that could provide emergency communications during or immediately after a major dis-aster, when terrestrial communications infrastructures may be damaged or disrupted.
“During a disaster, when the terrestrial infrastructure is unavailable, DACA technologies could provide emergency communications to first responders and possibly civilians” said David Furth, Acting Chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. “Ideally, DACA technologies could be deployed rapidly to the scene of a major disaster and enable immediate and continuous communications using the devices that first responders and other users carry with them everyday until the infrastructure is restored.”
The FCC noted that there remains a gap during the first 72 hours after a catastrophic event when communications may be disrupted or completely disabled due to damaged facilities, widespread power outages, and lack of access by restoration crews into the affected area. DACA could provide temporary emergency communications to emergency management officials, first responders, critical infrastructure industry personnel, and the public to use their day-to-day communications devices seamlessly during and immediately after an emergency. Most significant, the use of DACA to ensure quick restoration of emergency communications could save lives.
In its Notice of Inquiry, the Commission seeks comment on:
- the deployment and operation of DACA technologies;
- the associated costs and benefits;
- coordinating and managing the use of DACA technologies; and
- authorizing the use of spectrum to support their operation.
The Notice of Inquiry also addresses DACA system performance issues, including questions on coverage area, capacity, interference mitigation, and interoperability. Comments in this PS Docket No. 11-15 proceeding are due July 25, and reply comments are due August 14.
FCC PROPOSES $1.75 MILLION FINE FOR FAILURETO CONTIBUTE TO USF: The FCC has is-sued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL), proposing to fine Telseven, LLC, $1,758,465 for apparently willfully and repeatedly (1) failing to contribute fully to the Universal Service Fund (USF); (2) filing inaccurate FCC Forms 499-Q; (3) failing to make full contributions to the administration of the North American Numbering Plan (NANP); (4) failing to make full contributions to the ad-ministration of local number portability (LNP); and (5) failing to pay regulatory fees when due. Telseven is a Florida-based company that held itself out as a “provider of interstate telecommunications services.” Specifically, Telseven provided an “interstate Enhanced Number Assistance Directory Service” (ENADA). This service offered consumers the ability to obtain information about recently disconnected or out-of-service toll free numbers. A consumer using this service would contact Telseven by dialing one of the approximately one million such numbers that Telseven controlled. A consumer dialing one of these numbers typically heard a message offering Telseven’s assistance in finding the current toll-free number of the party the consumer was trying to reach. A recorded message would then provide the consumer with an “equal access code” ( i.e., dial-around number) for contacting Telseven’s directory assistance platform in Nevada. Consumers dialing this equal access code would have their calls transmitted to the Nevada platform by Telseven, rather than by the consumer’s prescribed long distance carrier. Since Telseven did not offer service in Nevada, all calls using this equal access number were interstate long distance calls. Telseven charged customers an “administrative recovery fee” to offset regulatory fees and USF contributions. On April 20, 2012, Telseven filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division. By April 26, 2012, Telseven’s Internet website stated that the Company is “no longer providing services.” Telseven appears to be the corporate vehicle for the activities of just one person, Mr. Patrick B. Hines, a/k/a P. Brian Hines. Mr. Hines is the sole officer and director of Telseven, and as such has exercised complete control over Telseven. The FCC said it will hold Mr. Hines personally liable for the actions of Telseven. Accordingly, for purposes of the NAL, the term Telseven includes Patrick Hines personally and all obligations under the NAL therefore also extend to Mr. Hines.
ROCKEFELLER INTRODUCES BILL TO PROHIBIT “CRAMMING”: Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV has introduced S.3291, the Fair Telephone Billing Act of 2012, to protect consumers from unauthorized third-party charges being placed on their telephone bills. This practice is commonly referred to as “cramming.” The bill would:
(1) ban third-party charges on wireline telephone and interconnected VoIP bills, with exceptions for the legitimate third-party charges of telephone-related services, like collect calls, and “bundled” services, like satellite television services, that are jointly marketed with telephone services; and
(2) direct the FCC to create rules that would protect wireless consumers against cramming and ensure they are reimbursed for any unauthorized third-party charges that appear on their wireless bills.
Our telco clients should ensure that the bill does not sweep legitimate services that contribute to telco revenue streams into this restriction.
FCC MAY PROBE CELLPHONE EMISSIONS: According to The Hill, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski recently circulated an order that would launch a formal inquiry into the levels of radiation emitted by wireless devices. The FCC last updated its radiation guidelines in 1996 and, according to The Hill, the current proposed inquiry is simply a routine review. The past 15 years have been marked by battling studies over whether cellphones increase the risk of cancer. But there has been no definitive study which indicates that wireless devices cause harm. CTIA-The Wireless Association said it welcomes the FCC’s continuing oversight of the issue.
FAA MAY PROPOSE FLASHING LIGHTS FOR TOWERS HIGHER THAN 150 FEET: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has published a report, Evaluation of New Obstruction Lighting Techniques to Reduce Avian Fatalities, which finds that flashing lights instead of steady-burning tower obstruction lights will help reduce migratory bird mortality, according to the AGL Bulletin. It noted that scientists have determined that the steady-burning lights are more likely to attract birds. AGL said the FAA proposes to amend the obstruction lighting standards to omit or flash steady-burning red lights from several obstruction lighting configurations. Lighting for towers less than 151 feet should remain unchanged because most birds do not fly below 150 feet, and thus such towers do not pose a significant threat. During a recent flight evaluation, AGL said researchers visually assessed towers that had the following lighting configurations:
- FAA Styles A/F — a combination of steady-burning red L-810 and flashing red L-864 light fixtures on a 1000-foot tower.
- FAA Styles B/C — a series of high-intensity white strobe lights on a 1,200-foot tower.
- FAA Style E — a combination of steady-burning red L-810 and a flashing red L-864 light fixtures on a 300-foot cell tower.
AUGUST 1: FCC FORM 502, NUMBER UTILIZATION AND FORECAST REPORT: Any wireless or wireline carrier (including paging companies) that have received number blocks—including 100, 1,000, or 10,000 number blocks—from the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA), a Pooling Administrator, or from another carrier, must file Form 502 by August 1. Carriers porting numbers for the purpose of transferring an established customer’s service to another service provider must also report, but the carrier receiving numbers through porting does not. Resold services should also be treated like ported numbers, meaning the carrier transferring the resold service to another carrier is required to report those numbers but the carrier receiving such numbers should not report them. New this year is that reporting carriers are required to include their FCC Registration Number (FRN). Reporting carriers file utilization and forecast reports semiannually on or before February 1 for the preceding six-month reporting period ending December 31, and on or before August 1 for the preceding six-month reporting period ending June 30.