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.
FCC Unveils Updated "Small Biz Cyber Planner"
The FCC has unveiled an updated 2.0 version of its "Small Biz Cyber Planner," a free and easy-to-use online resource for any small business owner who wants to better protect their business from the growing threat of cybersecurity attacks. Launched in 2011, the FCC said, the tool has already been used by nearly 10,000 businesses across the country to create customized cybersecurity plans. New research by Symantec, an FCC Cybersecurity Outreach Partner, indicates that nearly 83% of U.S. small businesses have no cybersecurity protection plan — despite the fact that millions of cyber attacks occur each year. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski also announced new and renewed partnerships with public and private sector organizations, including Symantec, eBay, Visa, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), and others.
The Commission's online cyber planner enables business owners to create and download a customized plan — to protect themselves from online threats which could significantly damage their companies — by answering 12 simple questions. The updated cyber planner features new details about cyber insurance to mitigate interruptions to business and financial loss from cyber attacks, and best practices on spyware, including how to avoid advanced versions of spyware. It also incorporates the immediate steps to take in case of infection, and recommendations on installing new software systems that enable users to remotely track and erase the hard drive of laptops and mobile devices in the event of theft. The Cyber Planner can be accessed at the following link: www.fcc.gov/cyberforsmallbiz
FCC SEEKS TO REFRESH RECORD IN WIRELESS MICROPHONE PROCEEDING: The FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) and the Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) have invited interested parties to update and refresh the record pertaining to two specific issues raised in the Commission's 2010 Wireless Microphones Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM). Comments in this WT Docket Nos. 08-166, 08-167, and ET Docket No. 10-24 proceeding are due November 21, and replies are due December 12. Comments should focus on (1) whether the Commission should provide for a limited expansion of license eligibility that would permit some wireless microphone and other low power auxiliary station users, which currently operate in the TV broadcast spectrum on an unlicensed basis, to operate on a licensed basis under the part 74 rules applicable to low power auxiliary stations (LPAS); and (2) what steps the Commission should take to promote more efficient use of this spectrum by wireless microphones. The Commission asks that these comments take into consideration recent industry developments, including advances in wireless microphone technologies, as well as related Commission proceedings that affect use of wireless microphones, including the TV White Spaces proceeding and the Incentive Auctions proceeding proposing auction of spectrum currently allocated to television broadcasting.
COMMISSIONER PAI SPEAKS ON IP TRANSITION AND END OF COMMON CARRIER REGULATION : In a recent speech, FCC Commissioner Ajit V. Pai addressed the transition to an all-Internet Protocol (IP) world and called for the FCC to close its 2010 docket examining the reclassification of broadband Internet access services as common carrier services subject to Title II regulation. Commissioner Pai also called for the FCC to establish an IP Transition Task Force to "hasten the Internet transformation" and "modernize the Commission's regulations." Commissioner Pai states that he would expect the Task Force to recommend "the repeal of old-world regulations that no longer make sense in a competitive, all-IP world," including the removal of "all the tariffs, the arcane cost studies, and the hidden subsidies that distort competition for the benefit of companies, not consumers." Although Commissioner Pai states that "vital consumer protections" must be preserved in an all-IP world, the only such protection mentioned was access to 911. Commissioner Pai also expressed his support for the FCC's overhaul of the universal service fund in the USF/ICC Order and stated that he looks forward to working with the other commissioners "on continuing to implement these historic reforms." The full text of Commissioner Pai's comments is available on the FCC website.
FTC OFFERS AWARD FOR ROBOCALL BLOCKING TECHNOLOGY: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced the "Robocall Challenge," a government sponsored contest that will award $50,000 for the best technical solution to block illegal commercial robocalls to landline and mobile phones. Details can be obtained at Challenge.gov .
PANETTA WARNS OF CYBERATTACKS: According to Reuters, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said last week that cyberspace is the battlefield of the future, with attackers already going after banks and other financial institutions and developing the ability to strike U.S. power grids and government systems. He said that U.S. banks and financial institutions have been under sustained attack in recent weeks by suspected Iranian hackers thought to be responding to economic sanctions aimed at forcing Tehran to negotiate over its nuclear program. Reuters noted that a group calling itself the Cyber Fighters of Izz addin Al Qassam has claimed credit for the disruptions, calling them a protest against an anti-Islam video posted on YouTube that has provoked violent protests across the Muslim world. Panetta said the United States has made significant investments in cyber forensics to deal with the problem of identifying the source of a cyber attack. He warned potential attackers that the United States has "the capacity to locate them and hold them accountable." Panetta also said that more pressure on Congress is needed to push it to act to avoid a round of automatic budget cuts due to go into effect in January. The cuts would take another $500 billion from defense spending over the next decade, following a $487 billion cut in projected defense spending approved last year, Reuters said.
SOFTBANK DOES NOT RULE OUT PURSUING MetroPCS: After reaching an agreement to purchase 70% of Sprint-Nextel for $20.1 billion (BloostonLaw Telecom Update, October 17), Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son has not ruled out pursuing MetroPCS, according to FierceWireless , the Wall Street Journal, and other media sources. Deutsche Telekom (DT) has agreed to conduct a reverse merger with MetroPCS in which its T-Mobile USA subsidiary will essentially acquire MetroPCS, according to these media reports. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Son did not rule out the possibility of a deal with MetroPCS. "We shouldn't rule out any opportunity or alternative," Son said. But any bid for MetroPCS would be complicated, FierceWireless noted. Under the terms of its agreement with DT, MetroPCS cannot exit the deal even if a competing bid is made, unless its shareholders vote against DT. Before then, according to the New York Times , only DT can call off the deal, even if MetroPCS' board recommends a higher bid. Sprint also announced that it will increase its ownership in Clearwire from 48% to 50.8% by purchasing about $100 million worth of Clearwire stock from Eagle River Holdings, the investment firm owned by Craig McCaw. Sprint also told the New York Times that it has told other Clearwire investors Comcast and Intel that it would be interested in buying their stakes if they were willing to sell. The companies have 30 days to decide if they want to sell, the report said. FierceWireless said that many analysts think that Sprint is maneuvering to gain complete control of Clearwire's vast 2.5 GHz spectrum assets, which Clearwire plans to use to build a TD-LTE network next year. Softbank is using similar spectrum for its own TD-LTE network in Japan.
FEBRUARY 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 February 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. 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.
VITAL MEETINGS & DEADLINES
Oct. 25 – Deadline for rebuttals to oppositions to direct cases regarding designated issues for investigation of ILEC ARC tariffs (WC Docket No. 12-233).
Oct. 25 – Deadline for comments on Verizon's request to discontinue domestic private line, frame relay service in all 50 states, plus territories (WC Docket No. 12-298).
Oct. 29 – Deadline for reply comments on NECA's high cost loop formula (WC Docket No. 05-337).
Oct. 30 – Deadline for reply comments on Custer Telephone Cooperative's request for waiver of cellular construction deadline (WT Docket No. 12-259).
Oct. 31 – Deadline for comments on CenturyLink request for additional waiver of call signaling rules (CC Docket No. 01-92).
Nov. 1 – Deadline for comments on proposal to improve spectrum efficiency, use of 4.9 GHz band for public safety broadband (WP Docket No. 07-100, PS Docket No. 06-229, and WT Docket No. 06-150).
Nov. 1 – FCC Form 499-Q is due.
Nov. 1 – Deadline for comments on FirstNet's conceptual network architecture (NTIA Docket No. 120928505-01).
Nov. 1 – Deadline for Auction 901 winning bidders to submit FCC Form 680 (long form).
Nov. 8 – Last chance to file nationwide EAS test results.
Nov. 9 – Deadline for petitions to deny LightSquared request that FCC declare that certain broadband build-out requirements no longer apply (IB Docket No. 12-296).
Nov. 15 – Deadline for reply comments on CenturyLink request for additional waiver of call signaling rules (CC Docket No. 01-92).
Nov. 15 – Deadline for comments on Communications Innovators' request for declaratory ruling on informational calls to wireless consumers (CG Docket No. 02-278).
Nov. 15 – Deadline for comments on Cargo Airline Association's request for expedited declaratory ruling on autodialed package delivery notifications to wireless phones (CG Docket No. 02-278).
Nov. 15 – Deadline for comments on CallAssistant's request that the FCC clarify applicability of TCPA to operator-supervised prerecorded messages (CG Docket No. 02-278).
Nov. 15 – Deadline for comments on lawfulness of billing practices (CG Docket No. 98-170).
Nov. 19 – Deadline for oppositions to petitions to deny LightSquared request that FCC declare that certain broadband build-out requirements no longer apply (IB Docket No. 12-296).
Nov. 19 – Deadline for comments on CAF modeling of network, customer location (WC Docket No. 10-90 and 05-337).
Nov. 21 – Deadline for comments to refresh record in wireless microphone proceeding (WT Docket Nos. 08-166, 08-167, and ET Docket No. 10-24).
Nov. 23 – Deadline for comments on FCC review of wireless mobile spectrum holdings policy (WT Docket No. 12-269).