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What smartphone apps can learn from the humble pager
JOHN TOROUS, MD | TECH | JANUARY 30, 2016
Despite high interest and hopes, the clinical adoption of new mobile technologies such as smartphone apps and wearables for health care has been modest. While some clinicians and clinics are of course using the newest connected devices and apps, most would report they don’t regularly use mobile health technology yet. But they actually do. The vast majority of clinicians have been using mobile health technology for decades without even realizing it. Understand the success of this hidden mobile technology offers insights into how and why clinicians adopt technology as well as why they have been slower to adopt apps and connected devices.
The shrill beeping of a pager is a familiar sound to every clinician. These connected mobile devices have survived and thrived since the 1950s even with the birth of the Internet, rise of cellular phones, advent of smartphones, and development of wearables. The majority of clinicians continue to use pagers today, and pagers are a familiar sight in any health care setting from a rural clinic to a major metropolitan teaching hospital. While there are many reasons for the continued ascendancy of pagers, three factors are worth focusing on in understanding what today’s apps and connected devices can learn from the successfulness of pagers. Pagers are simple to use, reliable, and facilitate but do not seek to replace or “disrupt” human interaction.
Pagers are easy for everyone to use. From a junior medical student to an experienced clinician, everyone knows how to use a pager. Their simplicity makes them easy to learn to use in a few minutes. Because they are so simple, it is easy to use almost any type of pager on almost any network. Hospitals may have different policies about when to use a pager, but the core technical functionality and use remains nearly the same anywhere in the world.
Contrast this with today’s sea of smartphone apps that offer ever more intricate and complex functionality. Some are so complex to use that it is difficult to even understand what the intended functionality is. Many apps can now collect real-time patient symptom data that is so complex that entire research fields are being developed to make sense of this new stream of information. Clinicians’ want to the best tools to provide the best care for their patients — and sometimes the simplest tools are the best.
Pagers also have a reputation for being reliable. While not perfect, clinicians can count on pagers to deliver information no matter where they are in the hospital or community. Contrast this with today’s apps that have minimal regulations or standards — let alone reliability data. With many apps often updating every few months, what may have been a reliable app can potentially completely change after a single update. On a more fundamental level, papers have tremendous reliability because of their low power consumption. A single battery can often power a pager for at least one month. Smartphone apps for health care on the other hand increasingly demand more battery resources as they become more complex and draw on more sensors such as the phone’s GPS and camera. While smartphone apps and watches will soon stop functioning without power, pagers can reliably keep chirping away.
Finally, pagers offer a simple functionality that aims to enhance communication rather than disrupt or replace it. Given the limited screen space of most pagers, anything beyond a simple reminded or request cannot be fully communicated via pager. Thus, most pages end with a phone number or pager number to call back and continue to the conversation. In effect papers are facilitating conversations between health care providers, sometimes patients too, and encouraging rather than replacing direct contact and interaction. This is in contrast with many apps today that seek to automatically manage responsibilities and contacts. Others aim to encourage more screen time and less face-to-face time among health care teams. While there is always a trade-off between efficiency and personal communication, pagers seem to have found a good balance for the health care field.
Mobile technologies like smartphone apps and wearables hold tremendous potential for health care — but can benefit from looking at the success of older connected technologies. This article is not meant to suggest pagers are the optimal technology, rather the aim is to underscore several of the principles that have made pagers so successful: simple to use, always reliable, and facilitating instead of replacing direct communication. Health care apps will continue to evolve — perhaps one day even replacing papers — but, for now, pagers still remain health care’s most utilized mobile technology.
John Torous is a psychiatry fellow and editor-in-chief, JMIR Mental Health.
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Jim Tucker, proprietor of UltraTek Security Cameras, is back with a new ad for a combination, body, desk or dash camera. Many readers will remember Jim (still affectionately called Jimmy by his friends) from his many years in the communications industry. We all know—from the news—that body cameras have become a hot item in controversial arrests and shootings involving the police. Under the headline protect yourself ! this should be a popular product. I am told that Jimmy's price is much less than what most of the police agencies are currently paying.
Senate passes permanent ban on Internet access taxes
The ban on taxes targeting Internet services now heads to Obama.
U.S. Capitol in Washington. Credit: Elizabeth Heichler
The U.S. Senate has voted to permanently ban taxes on Internet access and other online services.
The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act was included in a trade enforcement bill passed by senators in a 75-20 vote Thursday. The provision, passed by the House of Representatives last June, would permanently extend a 18-year moratorium on Internet-targeted taxes that expired in October. Congress had extended the moratorium several times since 1998, but supporters weren't able to pass a permanent ban until now.
The tax moratorium, which now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature, would prohibit states from taxing Internet access and from levying any new taxes that target Internet services with no offline equivalent. The bill would prohibit taxes on bandwidth or email, for example.
Several lawmakers applauded the vote.
“Here’s some good news: Right now most Americans pay $0 in taxes to connect to the Internet,” Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, wrote on Medium.com. “Thanks to a bill that passed today, you will never have to pay taxes just to get online, or pay more taxes for goods and services just because they’re bought online.”
The permanent extension of the tax ban is good news for consumers, added Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican.
“Most people agree that Internet access is something we want to encourage,” he said in a statement. “Whether we use online access for work, education or recreation, we want the access, period. The more affordable Internet service is, the more people who will be able to get online.”
The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, a government watchdog group, called the Senate vote a “taxpayer victory.”
The tax ban would not apply to sales taxes on online purchases. Some lawmakers and retail groups have been pushing Congress for years to approve an online sales tax, but opponents have successfully blocked their efforts. [Source: PCWorld ]
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There is no charge for subscription and there are no membership restrictions. Readers are a very select group of wireless industry professionals, and include the senior managers of many of the world’s major Paging and Wireless Messaging companies. There is an even mix of operations managers, marketing people, and engineers — so I try to include items of interest to all three groups. It’s all about staying up-to-date with business trends and technology.
I regularly get readers’ comments, so this newsletter has become a community forum for the Paging, and Wireless Messaging communities. You are welcome to contribute your ideas and opinions. Unless otherwise requested, all correspondence addressed to me is subject to publication in the newsletter and on my web site. I am very careful to protect the anonymity of those who request it.
I spend the whole week searching the Internet for news that I think may be of interest to you — so you won’t have to. This newsletter is an aggregator — a service that aggregates news from other news sources. You can help our community by sharing any interesting news that you find.
Editorial Opinion pieces present only the opinions of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of any of advertisers or supporters. This newsletter is independent of any trade association.
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Government may tap into your IoT gadgets and use your smart devices to spy on you
The U.S. spy chief admitted the government may use your “smart” Internet-connected devices to spy on you.
A Harvard report no sooner debunked the FBI’s “Going Dark” argument than the U.S. intelligence chief admitted the government might use your “smart” Internet-connected devices to spy on you.
U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified ( pdf ):
Clapper’s prepared testimony about spying via IoT were included in the “Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community” report ( pdf ) delivered to the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 9. The Internet of Things was the first topic mentioned under “cyber and technology,” followed by artificial intelligence, although the report notes that the order of topics doesn’t necessarily mean the intelligence community views the topic as the most important.
While this is not the first time an intelligence chief has admitted the potential of spying on people via their Internet-connected devices—since CIA Director David Petraeus said the same thing four years ago—the Harvard report pointed out just how widely IoT surveillance could be used.
The report included specific examples of potential surveillance via baby monitors, smart TVs, IP cameras, home automation products such as smart thermostats and smoke detectors, smart toys such as Hello Barbie or Elf on a Shelf, the Amazon Echo, connected cars and smartphones. But there are so many more when you consider fitness trackers, refrigerators, crock-pots, motion detectors, even pregnancy tests —although a fitness tracker might do double-duty as a Reddit user reported that his wife's Fitbit knew she was pregnant before they did.
“Appliances and products ranging from televisions and toasters to bed sheets, light bulbs, cameras, toothbrushes, door locks, cars, watches and other wearables are being packed with sensors and wireless connectivity,” the Harvard report explained . “Law enforcement or intelligence agencies may start to seek orders compelling Samsung, Google, Mattel, Nest or vendors of other networked devices to push an update or flip a digital switch to intercept the ambient communications of a target.”
Could your smart LED bulb be enlisted in the government’s spying machine? Maybe or maybe not, but the U.S. did invoke “national security” to stop Philips from selling the Lumileds LED portion of its company to the Chinese. Those LEDs are used in one of every three cars made in the world, used in TV, mobile device and computer displays, used as a flash for smartphone cameras, and used in general lighting markets.
You’d think if companies adopting encryption by default in smartphones was really a threat to intelligence agencies that the “threat assessment” report would hammer the point home; yet Clapper mentioned encryption just four times in the 29-page report; once was in regard to attackers trying to change source code to break network equipment encryption. “Encrypting” was mentioned regarding ransomware developed by cybercriminals, a topic listed under “nonstate actors.” Violent extremists will “publicize their use of encrypted messaging apps” and terrorists will “take advantage of widely available, free encryption technology, mobile-messaging applications, the dark web, and virtual environments to pursue their objectives.”
However, when describing global threats, FBI Director James Comey did mention the FBI’s inability to crack encryption on a phone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters. Comey claimed , “I don’t want a backdoor…I would like people to comply with court orders, and that is the conversation I am trying to have.”
But who needs a back door when you can waltz right in the front door of a home with Internet-connected smart devices or home automation? Not much time passes without hearing about some new security flaw in smart devices and how to exploit their protocols to take control of the device or steal information. Even the FBI has warned citizens about IoT risks and “to be aware of IoT vulnerabilities cybercriminals could exploit.” If hackers can exploit those devices, do you really think intelligence agencies can’t already do so?
The ENCRYPT Act
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that the bipartisan legislation “ENCRYPT Act” was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives. The ENCRYPT Act would “prevent any state or locality from mandating that a ‘manufacturer, developer, seller, or provider’ design or alter the security of a product so it can be decrypted or surveilled by authorities.”
Now, if only manufacturers of Internet-connected devices would deploy encryption. It might stop cybercriminals as well as government spies from using our IoT devices against us.
Darlene Storm (not her real name) is a freelance writer with a background in information technology and information security.
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Facebook Tests SMS Integration In Messenger, Launches Support For Multiple Accounts
by Sarah Perez (@sarahintampa)
Facebook says it’s testing a way for users to receive, read and respond to their SMS-based conversations in its Messenger application for mobile devices. The feature, which would be optional if broadly rolled out, could help to shift users away from their default texting application and see them increasing their time spent Facebook Messenger instead.
Also new is added support for using Messenger with multiple accounts—a feature designed for those who shared devices.
The social network confirmed the SMS tests were underway following reports of what appeared to be the return of SMS support in Messenger.
As the blog Android Police noted , some users were seeing a new SMS Settings pane that allowed them to use Messenger as an SMS client.
When texting a friend in Messenger with the option enabled, the prompt in the text input box would read “Write an SMS message.” The messages sent as SMS texts would then appear as purple bubbles, instead of Messenger’s usual blue, the blog also said.
Though many of today’s younger users may not remember, Facebook Messenger originally operated as an SMS replacement app as well as a way to quickly chat with Facebook friends. However, in late 2013, the company overhauled its application and added a way for users to message non-friends by their phone number. Those messages were delivered inside the recipient’s Messenger app.
At the same time, Facebook pulled the option to actually send out SMS messages, saying that the feature had seen “low traction.” In reality, the company likely wanted to force Messenger adoption—something it did very well, also by pulling the functionality from the default Facebook app in 2014 .
The fact that Facebook may now be considering bringing SMS support back to Messenger lines up with the company’s previously announced vision statement for 2016 , which included plans to make the phone number disappear, the company had said.
As TechCrunch’s Josh Constine pointed out at the time , Messenger is so far ahead of other messaging apps in the U.S. that its only real competition is SMS and iMessage.
To date, the company has already made several big strides to help transition people away from using their phone’s native texting app, including the launch of a feature that let anyone send a message request to anyone on Facebook , which eliminated the need to know someone’s phone number.
“Message requests,” as the feature is known, brings privacy to the mobile messaging experience, too— while you can view these requests along with more information about the sender in your Filtered Requests folder, the message’s sender never knows if you looked at their message.
The feature also allows for a different type of social connection on Facebook—people who can message you, but aren’t your Facebook “friend.”
However, to truly kill off SMS, it seems that Facebook may have realized that it will (once again) have to allow people to use Messenger as their SMS client. All the bells and whistles—including GIFs, photo and video support, voice calling, hidden chess games !, etc.—are not enough if your friend doesn’t have the app installed. You’ll probably still just text them.
Turning a mobile messaging app into the default SMS client is something that Google has also done on Android, of course. However, it’s been backtracking on its implementation in recent days. The company’s SMS-integrated Hangouts app has been asking users to switch back to Google’s regular SMS app instead , users have noticed.
Facebook, clearly, is taking the opposite approach.
A company spokesperson confirmed the SMS test, saying:
We understand that the tests are currently live only with a small number of Android users in the U.S.
Unfortunately, because of the deeper OS integration required to make this feature work, it’s unlikely that iOS users will ever have the option to use Messenger for SMS messages.
Also New: Support for Multiple Accounts on Messenger
SMS support is not the only change coming to Messenger—Facebook also announced support for multiple accounts in the app.
Until today, Messenger hasn’t yet offered an easy way for users to switch accounts, which meant those sharing a device would often install, then uninstall Messenger in order to use the app privately.
Now Messenger for Android has a new section called “Accounts,” which lets you add and remove accounts on the app. These can also be password-protected so only the account holder can read their messages. Others will only see notifications that a message has been received—not its content.
A spokesperson confirmed this addition, as well, saying, “millions of people share phones with their family and friends. Until now, there hasn’t been an easy way for people to access their individual Messenger accounts from shared devices. To address this, we’ve launched a feature on Android to enable multiple people to log in and use Messenger from a single phone.”
This feature, unlike the SMS option, is available worldwide.
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How to Offend 1 Billion Indians With 1 Tweet
by Laura Lorenzetti @lauralorenzetti
Marc Andreessen demonstrates how.
Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET with Facebook’s response.
Marc Andreessen, venture capitalist and Facebook board member, took to Twitter to defend the social media company’s Free Basics service–and encountered quite a few detractors after an offensive tweet. Potentially one billion detractors, to be exact.
Facebook FB 0.76% proposed its Free Basics program , dubbed Internet.org, was designed to give people, especially in developing countries, some Internet services at no charge by partnering with local mobile carriers. The idea was met with fierce criticism in India and beyond as many claimed that the service violated net neutrality by not treating all content as equal. Indian regulators took the argument to heart and banned the practice of zero rating , meaning mobile carriers can’t charge for a data plan but then exempt some services from counting toward the data limit.
Andreessen felt that the decision by Indian regulators was not just wrong but morally wrong, and tweeted such.
— Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) February 10, 2016
And that began Andreessen’s Twitter tirade, which took a turn toward colonialism when he went on to suggest that India’s rejection of Facebook’s “help” would only end up hurting the nation in response to a follower’s challenge that his argument “sounds like justification for Internet colonialism.”
“Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades. Why stop now?” Andreessen tweeted in response, though the Tweet has since been deleted.
That set off a Twitter [...] backlash, and also revealed why Facebook’s Free Basics program never gained widespread support in India. The program relied on a tech corporation, i.e . Facebook, picking what services local people need. Essentially, Facebook would hand-pick the winning Indian Internet services.
— Vikram Chachra (@lemonandice) February 10, 2016 9:17 PM — 9 Feb 2016 — Mumbai, India:
Andreessen quickly realized his gaffe and tweeted out a series of apologies.
— Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) February 10, 2016
He then signed off for the night, waking up this morning to offer yet another apology to all of India: “I apologize for any offense caused by my earlier tweet about Indian history and politics,” Andreessen wrote. “I admire India and the Indian people enormously.”
A Facebook spokesperson for Internet.org released a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying that the company “strongly rejects the sentiments expressed by Marc Andreessen last night regarding India.”
IARU President Touts Amateur Radio’s Relevance in Emergency Communication
International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) President Tim Ellam, VE6SH/G4HUA, says Amateur Radio is “probably more relevant today than it was 25 years ago.” Ellam made the comment during an interview with Maximilian Jacobson-Gonzalez at the 2nd Global Forum on Emergency Telecommunications (GET-2016), held in late January in Kuwait and sponsored by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The event’s slogan was “Saving lives.”
“We’re so dependent now on all kinds of systems of communications — everyone has a cell phone, everyone is used to using the Internet — but they’re not used to what happens when those systems go down,” Ellam said. “Amateur Radio is there. It relies on somewhat old fashioned technology, but there are also advancements in technology that we rely on.”
Ellam pointed out that hams can use computer-based digital techniques to pass message traffic at very low power levels and under poor propagation conditions. “Amateur Radio has kept pace by developing new ways to communicate,” he said.
Among the major challenges Amateur Radio is facing, Ellam cited the difficulty in some countries to obtain an Amateur Radio license. In addition, he said, some countries impose high duties on imported ham gear, and some make it difficult to erect appropriate antennas and support structures.
Ellam reiterated his focus on the value of the Amateur Service today when he spoke to two sessions at the GET-2016 gathering. “Amateur operators are on the ground. If they’re not close to the site of a disaster, they might even be in it,” he told a Leaders’ Dialogue forum. “They’re there. They’re ready to go. For the first 24 to 48 hours you have people on the ground, ready to assist. They own their own equipment. They don’t rely on commercial networks. If cellular service goes down, we can assist by using HF or VHF or UHF communications on a peer-to-peer basis.”
Ellam pointed out that, although he’s not an engineer and does not work in a technical field, he knows enough to get on the air using alternate power sources and a very simple wire antenna. “Don’t forget the Amateur Radio services,” he implored those attending the forum. “They’re a great asset to you in times of crisis.”
The ITU described GET-2016 as an international platform to discuss topics related to world-wide emergency telecommunication policy and disaster risk reduction.
York County 911 back online after outage
POSTED 7:31 AM, FEBRUARY 9, 2016, BY VALERIE WALTZ, UPDATED AT 08:30AM, FEBRUARY 9, 2016
YORK COUNTY, Pa.—911 services are back online in York County after they were down for more than an hour Tuesday morning.
A 911 outage is affecting service in York County.
Numerous fire companies and ambulance services were reporting the outage on social media Tuesday morning.
It is unclear what caused the outage.
If you need to reach York County 911, please contact your local fire or police station directly.
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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.
REMINDER: CPNI Certifications are Due March 1, 2016
On February 5, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau issued an FCC Enforcement Advisory reminding those telecommunications carriers and interconnected VoIP providers currently subject to the FCC’s rules protecting Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) of their obligation to file, by March 1, their annual reports certifying compliance with the CPNI rules. Failure to comply with the CPNI rules, including the annual certification requirement, may subject them to enforcement action, including monetary forfeitures of up to $160,000 for each violation or each day of a continuing violation, up to a maximum of $1,575,000.
FY 2017 FCC Budget Seeks New “Spectrum License Fee Authority” for Unauctioned Spectrum
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama proposed a $4.1 trillion spending plan for fiscal year 2017. As part of the budget process, the FCC has released its own FY 2017 Congressional Budget Request in which the Administration is proposing new authority for the Commission to collect spectrum license user fees. The FCC would be authorized to set charges for unauctioned spectrum licenses “based on spectrum-management principles.”
A copy of the FCC’s FY2017 Budget Estimates to Congress is available HERE .
While the budget document is short on details as to what new spectrum fees are contemplated, or who would pay these fees, this is potentially big news for alarm companies and other businesses that currently rely on access to “free” spectrum. The FCC contemplates that fees “would be phased in over time as part of an ongoing rulemaking process to determine the appropriate application and level for fees.” The Administration estimates the fee will bring in $225 million in 2017, $325 million in 2018 and $425 million in 2019 before leveling off at a steady $550 million annually from 2020 through 2026. These user fees would come in addition to regulatory fees, which the Commission currently collects on an annual basis to offset the cost of FCC “enforcement activities, policy and rulemaking activities, user information services, and international activities.”
Wireless trade group CTIA came out strongly against any new spectrum fees, which would not apply to auctioned spectrum, but which could theoretically be extended to cellular licenses that were previously awarded by lottery. The vast majority of these licenses are now held by AT&T and Verizon, but independent and rural carriers may also hold significant stakes in cellular operations and these entities could be disproportionately harmed by the fee proposal. “Fees would be a tax that will depress auction revenues, harm investment and do nothing to free up additional bands of spectrum or advance consumers' adoption of wireless broadband services,” said a CTIA vice president of Government Affairs.
Other legislative proposals contained in the FCC’s FY 2017 Budget is a proposal to allow the FCC to conduct auctions to assign licenses for certain domestic satellite services, as had been done before a 2005 court decision called the practice into question on technical grounds, and a proposal for the FCC to either auction or use fee authority to assign flexible-use licenses for the 1675-1680 MHz Band, which spectrum is currently by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for weather balloons and weather satellite downlinks.
Because language in the FY 2017 Budget proposal specifically mentions “unauctioned spectrum licenses,” this new spectrum license fee proposal would seem to preclude new fees on the use of unlicensed bands. If any of our clients would be adversely affected by having to pay for use of licensed spectrum that is currently available without charge, we can assist you in making your views known to the relevant law makers.
Comment Sought on Petition Regarding TCPA Restrictions on Television Programming
On February 5, the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau issued a Public Notice seeking comment on a petition for declaratory ruling filed by Lifetime Entertainment Services, LLC (Lifetime), asking the Commission to clarify that the restrictions of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) do not apply to prerecorded calls providing information about television programming distributed by cable operators and cable programming networks that are intended to reach the cable operator’s subscribers who are already entitled to watch the programming without having to pay any additional charges. In the alternative, Lifetime requests that such calls at issue in litigation be granted a retroactive waiver of Section 64.1200(a)(3) of the Commission’s rules.
Specifically, Lifetime argues that prerecorded calls from cable operators and cable programming networks to residential lines that are intended to reach subscribers who are already entitled to watch the relevant programming at no additional charge should be viewed as informational. Lifetime asks the Commission to clarify that a call to provide information about a service change is not made for a commercial purpose, that such informational calls are neither advertising nor telemarketing, and that these calls are therefore not prohibited by the TCPA and the Commission’s rules.
The TCPA prohibits the initiation of prerecorded non-emergency calls to residential telephone lines without the prior express consent of the called party. Commission rules exempt from this prohibition calls that are not made for a commercial purpose and those made for a commercial purpose but do not include any unsolicited advertisement.
Accessible User Interface Order Effective March 7; Comment Deadlines set for NPRM
On February 5, the FCC issued a Public Notice announcing that its Second Accessible User Interfaces Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published in the Federal Register on February 4, establishing an effective date of March 7 for those rules not requiring approval by the Office of Management and Budget. Additionally, the Federal Register publication established the deadlines for comment and reply comment on the NPRM as February 24 and March 7, respectively.
In the Order, the FCC implemented Section 204’s requirement that both the “appropriate built-in apparatus functions” and the “on-screen text menus or other visual indicators built in to the digital apparatus” to access such functions be “usable by individuals who are blind or visually impaired” by adopting a definition of “usable” consistent with Section 6.3(l) of the Commission’s rules. In addition, the Order adopts information, documentation, and training requirements comparable to those in Section 6.11 of the Commission’s rules and adopts consumer notification requirements for manufacturers of digital apparatus and navigation devices that will require manufacturers to publicize the availability of accessible devices on their websites. It also requires multichannel video programming distributors (“MVPDs”), as well as manufacturers, to ensure that the contact office or person listed on their website is able to answer both general and specific questions about the availability of accessible equipment.
In the NPRM, the FCC seeks comment on a proposal to adopt rules that would require manufacturers and MVPDs to ensure that consumers are able to readily access user display settings for closed captioning and on the FCC’s authority to adopt such rules under the Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990 (“TDCA”).
Law & Regulation
Senate Committee to Hold Hearing on FCC Oversight
On March 2, U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing entitled, “Oversight of the Federal Communications Commission.” According to a press release, the hearing “will have a broad scope covering every aspect of the agency and major policy issues before the Commission.”
The witness panel for the hearing will consist of the five FCC commissioners. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available at www.commerce.senate.gov .
House Members Press FCC on Lack of Consistent Broadband Reporting
On February 5, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) wrote to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to express their concern with the FCC’s reporting on broadband deployment, video competition, and mobile wireless competition.
In the letter, the congressmen wrote:
They also expressed concern about the evolving definition of “advanced telecommunications service” used by the FCC in its reports, writing:
The letter also posed a number of questions about the FCC’s “decision-making and the impact of the FCC’s shifting definitions of broadband and effective competition” and requested a response by February 19, 2016.
A copy of the full letter can be found here .
2016 Form 499 and Instructions Now Available
On February 8, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau issued a Public Notice announcing the release of the annual Telecommunications Reporting Worksheet (FCC Form 499-A) and accompanying instructions to be used in 2016 to report 2015’s revenues. The Bureau has also released quarterly Telecommunications Reporting Worksheet (FCC Form 499-Q) and accompanying instructions to report projected and collected revenues on a quarterly basis.
Changes for 2016 include:
The revised FCC Forms will be available soon on Universal Service Administrative Company’s (USAC) web site at http://www.usac.org/cont/tools/forms/default.aspx .
FCC Announces Commencement Date for Interconnected VoIP Numbering Applications
Once filed, Bureau staff will first review Numbering Authorization Applications for conformance with procedural rules and, assuming the procedural rules are satisfied, issue a Public Notice seeking comment on the application. Comments will be due 15 days after the Public Notice is issued. On the 31st day after the Public Notice is released, the application will be deemed granted unless the Bureau notifies the applicant that the grant will not be automatically effective.
Comcast to Participate in Broadcast Incentive Auction
On its February 3 fourth quarter earnings call, Comcast CFO Michael Cavanaugh said that Comcast will “take a paddle” in the upcoming 600 MHz Broadcast Incentive Auction, reports WirelessWeek.com. According to the article, Comcast’s participation is non-committal and any spending that might occur will not impact the company’s planned $5 billion in buybacks this year.
According to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, Comcast will be seeking spectrum that holds “strategic value” for the company as it looks to leverage its other mobile assets, reports CED Magazine online.
“It's a free auction, if you will, to get a paddle and see what the values are, and how much capacity,” Roberts said. “It's not clear exactly what's for sale, exactly yet, and all that has to be determined. But you have to make the decision now, and so we're making it.”
MARCH 1: COPYRIGHT STATEMENT OF ACCOUNT FORM FOR CABLE COMPANIES. This form, plus royalty payment for the second half of calendar year 2015, is due March 1. The form covers the period July 1 to December 31, 2015, and is due to be mailed directly to cable TV operators by the Library of Congress’ Copyright Office. If you do not receive the form, please contact Gerry Duffy.
MARCH 1: CPNI ANNUAL CERTIFICATION. Carriers should modify (as necessary) and complete their “Annual Certification of CPNI Compliance” for 2016. The certification must be filed with the FCC by March 1.
Note that the annual certification should include the following three required Exhibits: (a) a detailed Statement Explaining How the Company’s Operating Procedures Ensure Compliance with the FCC’s CPNI Rules to reflect the Company’s policies and information; (b) a Statement of Actions Taken against Data Brokers; and (c) a Summary of Customer Complaints Regarding Unauthorized Release of CPNI. A company officer with personal knowledge that the company has established operating procedures adequate to ensure compliance with the rules must execute the Certification, place a copy of the Certification and accompanying Exhibits in the Company’s CPNI Compliance Records, and file the certification with the FCC in the correct fashion. Our clients can forward the original to BloostonLaw in time for the firm to make the filing with the FCC by March 1, if desired. BloostonLaw is prepared to help our clients meet this requirement, which we expect will be strictly enforced, by assisting with preparation of their certification filing; reviewing the filing to make sure that the required showings are made; filing the certification with the FCC, and obtaining a proof-of-filing copy for your records. Clients interested in obtaining BloostonLaw's CPNI compliance manual should contact Gerry Duffy (202-828-5528) or Mary Sisak (202-828-5554). Note: If you file the CPNI certification, you must also file the FCC Form 499-A Telecom Reporting Worksheet by April 1.
MARCH 1: FCC FORM 477, LOCAL COMPETITION & BROADBAND REPORTING FORM. This annual form is due March 1 and September 1 annually. The FCC requires facilities-based wired, terrestrial fixed wireless, and satellite broadband service providers to report on FCC Form 477 the number of broadband subscribers they have in each census tract they serve. The Census Bureau changed the boundaries of some census tracts as part of the 2010 Census.
Specifically, three types of entities must file this form:
MARCH 31: INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT CAPACITY REPORT. No later than March 31, all U.S. international carriers that owned or leased bare capacity on a submarine cable between the United States and any foreign point on December 31, 2015 and any person or entity that held a submarine cable landing license on December 31, 2015 must file a Circuit Capacity Report to provide information about the submarine cable capacity it holds. Additionally, cable landing licensees must file information on the Circuit Capacity Report about the amount of available and planned capacity on the submarine cable for which they have a license. Any U.S. International Carrier that owned or leased bare capacity on a terrestrial or satellite facility as of December 31, 2015 must file a Circuit Capacity Report showing its active common carrier circuits for the provision of service to an end-user or resale carrier, including active circuits used by itself or its affiliates. Any satellite licensee that is not a U.S. International Carrier and that owns circuits between the United States and any foreign point as of December 31, 2015 of the reporting period must file a Circuit Capacity Report showing its active circuits sold or leased to any customer, including itself or its affiliates, other than a carrier authorized by the FCC to provide U.S. international common carrier services.
APRIL 1: FCC FORM 499-A, TELECOMMUNICATIONS REPORTING WORKSHEET. This form must be filed by all contributors to the Universal Service Fund (USF) sup-port mechanisms, the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund, the cost recovery mechanism for the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA), and the shared costs of local number portability (LNP). Contributors include every telecommunications carrier that provides interstate, intrastate, and international telecommunications, and certain other entities that provide interstate telecommunications for a fee. Even common carriers that qualify for the de minimis exemption must file Form 499-A. Entities whose universal service contributions will be less than $10,000 qualify for the de minimis exemption. De minimis entities do not have to file the quarterly report (FCC Form 499-Q), which was due February 1, and will again be due May 1. Form 499-Q relates to universal and LNP mechanisms. Form 499-A relates to all of these mechanisms and, hence, applies to all providers of interstate, intrastate, and international telecommunications services. Form 499-A contains revenue information for January 1 through December 31 of the prior calendar year. And Form 499-Q contains revenue information from the prior quarter plus projections for the next quarter. (Note: the revised 499-A and 499-Q forms are now available.) Block 2-B of the Form 499-A requires each carrier to designate an agent in the District of Columbia upon whom all notices, process, orders, and decisions by the FCC may be served on behalf of that carrier in proceedings before the FCC. Carriers receiving this newsletter may specify our law firm as their D.C. agent for service of process using the information in our masthead. There is no charge for this service.
APRIL 1: ANNUAL ACCESS TO ADVANCED SERVICES CERTIFICATION. All providers of telecommunications services and telecommunications carriers subject to Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act are required to file with the FCC an annual certification that (1) states the company has procedures in place to meet the recordkeeping requirements of Part 14 of the Rules; (2) states that the company has in fact kept records for the previous calendar year; (3) contains contact information for the individual or individuals handling customer complaints under Part 14; (4) contains contact information for the company’s designated agent; and (5) is supported by an affidavit or declaration under penalty of perjury signed by an officer of the company.
|This newsletter is not intended to provide legal advice. Those interested in more information should contact the firm. For additional information, please contact Hal Mordkofsky at 202-828-5520 or email@example.com .|
|Friends & Colleagues|
Wireless Network Planners
|UNTIL NEXT WEEK|
|THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK|
The Seven Ages of Man
“All the world's a stage,
—Act II, Scene VII, Shakespeare's As You Like It
|PHOTO OF THE WEEK|
|Source:||The Atlantic||Sun Guoshu / Xinhua / Corbis|
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