Selected portions of the BloostonLaw Telecom Update, and/or the BloostonLaw Private Users Update — newsletters from the Law Offices of Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP are reproduced in this section with the firm's permission.
FCC EXTENDS REVISED STUDY AREA BOUNDARY DATA SUBMISSION DEADLINE
Clients should be advised that late last night, the FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau issued an Order extending the study area boundary reconciliation process approximately sixty days. The deadline to reconcile and file revised study area boundary data is now March 17, 2014.
When the Wireline Competition Bureau originally announced the publication of the online map displaying the study area boundaries submitted and certified by incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) and certain state public utility commissions, the Public Notice also directed ILECs to review the online map, resolve any overlaps and voids with neighboring ILECs, and submit and certify revised boundary data no later than January 13, 2014.
In last night's Order extending the deadline, the Bureau recognized that the reconciliation process could be time consuming and may involve multiple discussions with neighboring carriers and state commissions. Accordingly, the Bureau found that a 60-day extension of the process would better enable parties to complete their consultations and revisions, and would ultimately result in more accurate and meaningful data.
A copy of the Order is here .
| BloostonLaw Telecom Update || Vol. 17, No. 1 || January 8, 2014 |
BloostonLaw Seeks Supporters for 600 MHz Band Licensing Comments
As recently discussed in the BloostonLaw Telecom Update, the FCC Wireless Bureau is seeking comment on a proposal by the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) to use Partial Economic Areas (PEAs) as the basis for licensing the 600 MHz spectrum made available in the Broadcast Television Incentive Auction, currently scheduled to take place in mid-2015. As part of this proceeding, the FCC is also seeking comment on a proposal from NTCA and RWA that calls for a bifurcated 600 MHz auction with licensing of the 600 MHz band on the basis of MSAs during the incentive auction, and a more traditional simultaneous multiple round auction for RSA licenses afterward. Comments on these 600 MHz licensing proposals are due by January 9, 2013, with reply comments due by January 23, 2013.
Upon review of the proposed PEA boundaries and after hearing feedback from some clients, we have come to the conclusion that use of PEAs for licensing the 600 MHz band would offer inadequate improvement over EA licensing for most of our clients, and especially those companies that provide service in the West and Midwestern states. Accordingly, we have circulated draft comments that urge the WTB to license at least a portion of the 600 MHz band on the basis of CMAs, consistent with CCA's primary proposal, and suggest that the approach proposed by NTCA/RWA may provide a workable way to get to CMAs.
The 600 MHz band could present a significant opportunity for our law firm's clients, but it is vital that smaller geographic areas be used for initial 600 MHz licensing or else small and rural carriers could be forced to bid against AT&T and Verizon and other publicly traded carriers for 600 MHz licenses that include metro areas. Please contact us by e-mail or telephone if you wish to participate.
FCC Releases New Data on Internet Access Services
On December 24, 2013, the Industry Analysis and Technology Division of the FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau released its latest Internet Access Services Report detailing internet access connections in the United States as of December 31, 2012. The report, which is based on bi-annual Form 477 data, tracks changes at the state and national level in the number of subscribers to internet access service in a variety of different combinations of speed tiers.
According to the report:
- Internet connections overall are growing. The number of connections over 200 kbps in at least one direction increased by 14% year-over-year to nearly 262 million.
- At year-end 2012, there were almost 65 million fixed and 64 million mobile connections with downstream speeds at or above 3 Mbps and upstream speeds at or above 768 kbps, as compared to 51 million fixed and 31 million mobile connections a year earlier.
- The number of connections with downstream speeds of at least 10 Mbps increased by 35% over December 2011, to 60 million connections.
- Growth is particularly high in mobile Internet subscriptions. The number of mobile subscriptions with speeds over 200 kbps in at least one direction grew to more than 169 million — up 19% from December 2011. The number of fixed-location connections at speeds over 200 kbps in at least one direction increased by 5% year-over-year to nearly 93 million.
It is important to note in considering these figures that the report uses census tract-level information to estimate the percentages of households located in census tracts, and that a provider that reports residential fixed-location connections of a particular speed in a particular census tract may not necessarily offer service at that speed everywhere in the census tract.
It is also important to note that this report does not reflect data collected as a result of the changes the FCC adopted to the Form 477 program in June of 2013. The FCC expects that the first filings of this new information will be due in September 2014 (representing data as of June 2014).
Law & Regulation
EPA Requires Notifications for Small Boilers, Environmental Reports for Generators
Clients with their own boiler-equipped buildings should be aware that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established a January 20, 2014 Initial Notification deadline for area source boilers operated by small entities (i.e., those that were previously unregulated). An area source facility emits or has the potential to emit less than 10 tons per year of a single hazardous air pollutant (HAP), or less than 25 tons per year for any combination of HAPs. An example of a HAP includes mercury produced as a by-product of burning coal in a boiler.
Additionally, commencing on an as yet undetermined date in 2015, entities with 100 horsepower or larger emergency back-up generator engines that operate, or commit to operate, for more than 15 hours and up to 100 hours per year for emergency demand response will need to collect and submit to the Environmental Protection Agency (as well as the relevant state environmental authority, and in many cases county and/or municipal environmental authorities) an annual report including the generator's location and dates and times of operation.
With regard to boilers, the EPA is regulating area source boilers operated by small entities based on three components: 1) the size of the boiler, 2) the type of fuel burned in the boiler, and 3) whether the boiler is new or existing. These elements are defined as follows:
- Boiler Size: Large area source boilers have a heat capacity equal to or greater than 10 MMBtu/hr. Small area source boilers have a heat capacity of less than 10MMBtu/hr.
- Type of Fuel Burned: Most boilers covered by the rule are non-residential coal, oil or biomass (wood-fired) boilers existing prior to June 4, 2010.
- New or Existing: An existing boiler covered by the rule commenced construction or reconstruction on or before June 10, 2010, while a new boiler covered by the rule commenced construction or reconstruction after June 4, 2010.
For both existing small boilers and existing large boilers, the Initial Notification must be filed with the EPA and the relevant state environmental agency by January 20, 2014. For both new small boilers and new large boilers, the Initial Notification must be filed with the EPA and the relevant state environmental authority within 120 days of the date of start-up. In many states, the notifications must also be filed with county and/or municipal environmental authorities.
In both cases, we suggest that our clients consult with their environmental consultants to determine whether they are covered by the new rules.
AT&T Announces Sponsored Data Program
On Monday, January 6, AT&T announced a new program which allows websites and applications to foot the bill for consumers' data usage associated with accessing those websites and applications. Comparing the program to 1-800 phone numbers and free shipping, the press release stated that,"[w]ith the new Sponsored Data service, data charges resulting from eligible uses will be billed directly to the sponsoring company."
Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) criticized a new AT&T program, according to a report by The Hill, saying, "The announcement of a sponsored data program by AT&T puts it in the business of picking winners and losers on the Internet, threatening the open Internet, competition and consumer choice."
She continued, "On its face, the ability for consumers to access 'toll-free' content seems like long-awaited relief from frustrating data caps. But embedded in programs of this type are serious implications for fairness and competition in the mobile marketplace. And we must ask just how beneficial a program like this is to consumers who could ultimately foot the bill for the added cost of doing business."
S.D. PUC Vice Chairman to Serve as NARUC Telecommunications Committee Chair
NARUC issued a Press Release on January 2, 2014, announcing that South Dakota Public Utilities Commission's Vice Chairman, Chris Nelson, will serve as the Chair of NARUC's Committee on Telecommunications. Commissioner Nelson succeeds Vermont Commissioner John Burke, whose term recently expired. The Committee provides a venue for state commissioners to analyze trends in the telecommunications sector and share best regulatory practices. The Committee works closely with the FCC, NTIA, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, the Office of the United States Trade Representative and the FBI; and passes resolutions on NARUC policy.
NARUC President Colette Honorable stated that Commissioner Nelson "is stepping up to serve his regulatory colleagues at a crucial time in the regulatory sector. He is quite literally stepping into the regulatory maelstrom as Congress is looking at FCC process reform and beginning the process of updating the federal Telecommunications Act. The FCC is poised to take up a number of significant issues in the near future, including competition, service quality, universal service reform, rural call completion problems, and several others. I am confident that his unique background and perspective will add an important element to our strong leadership team."
Since his appointment to the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission in January 2011, Commissioner Nelson (currently the Commission's Vice Chairman) has been very active on the NARUC Telecommunications Committee, most recently serving as a member of the NARUC Task Force on Federalism and Telecommunications. He was also recently nominated to serve on the FCC's Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service.
Genachowski Joins Carlyle Group
The Washington Post is reporting that former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has joined the Carlyle Group — a private equity firm based in Washington, DC. Mr. Genachowski will become the managing director of Carlyle's U.S. Buyout Fund, which is the company's "flagship" investment pool valued at over $13 billion.
Carlyle stated that Genachowski will be responsible for finding investments in the global technology, media and telecommunications sectors. Former Chairman Genachowski is not the first former FCC chairman to be hired by Carlyle. Following his term as chairman of the FCC from 1997 until 2001 under President Clinton, William E. Kennard was a managing director at Carlyle for several years.
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.
Jan. 8 — Electronic filing deadline for Form 497 for carriers seeking support for the preceding month and wishing to receive reimbursement by month's end.
Jan. 8 — PRA Comments on Special Access Data Collection are due.
Jan. 9 — Comments are due on the proposal to license 600 MHz Band using "Partial Economic Areas."
Jan. 13 — Reply comments are due on intrastate inmate calling rates and practices.
Jan. 13 — Comments due on Changes to LNP Porting Process.
Jan. 15 — Annual Hearing Aid Compatibility Report is due.
Jan. 17 — Mock auction for Auction 96.
Jan. 20 — Notification deadline for area-source boilers operated by small entities.
Jan. 22 — Auction 96 begins.
Jan. 23 — Reply comments are due on the proposal to license 600 MHz Band using "Partial Economic Areas."
Jan. 27 — Comments on Central Arkansas Telephone Cooperative request to include prepaid post-employment benefits in rate base are due.
Jan. 28 — Reply comments are due on Changes to LNP Porting Process.
Jan. 31 — FCC Form 555 (Annual Lifeline ETC Certification Form) is due.
Feb. 1 — FCC Form 499-Q is due.
Feb. 1 — FCC Form 502 (Number Utilization and Forecast Report) is due.
Feb. 10 — Electronic filing deadline for Form 497 for carriers seeking support for the preceding month and wishing to receive reimbursement by month's end.
Feb. 14 — Inmate calling rules become effective.
Feb. 28 — PRA comments on Rural Call Completion are due.
Mar. 1 — Copyright Statement of Account Form for cable companies is due.
Mar. 1 — Annual CPNI Certification is due.
Mar. 1 — FCC Form 477 (Local Competition & Broadband Reporting) is due.
Mar. 10 — Electronic filing deadline for Form 497 for carriers seeking support for the preceding month and wishing to receive reimbursement by month's end.
Mar. 31 — FCC Form 525 (Delayed Phase-down CETC Line Counts) is due.
Mar. 31 — FCC Form 508 (ICLS Projected Annual Common Line Requirement) is due.