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Wishing a safe and happy weekend for all readers of The Wireless Messaging News.
The featured article this week is the final installment of the series from Rex Lee “How We Lost Our 4th Amendment Rights to Our Technology Providers.”
Rex has done some serious research about how this happens when we accept the pre-installed apps on our smart phones and other devices — without reading the many pages of legalese that give away our rights to privacy. I am sure you will be surprised, as I was, when you read his well-written exposé.
We are very interested in receiving reader's comments about this important topic.
As a boy from a small mid-western town, I didn't have much exposure to “fine art” and “good music” until I went away to study at various schools. I always thought those things were only for stuck-up people from big cities — and definitely not for me.
Eventually some culture rubbed off on me, in spite of comments from my friends reminding me that “you can't polish a corn cob.”
In my living room I have many beautiful reproductions of fine art. I got the idea from reading about how Bill Gates does it in his home. Instead of buying beautiful framed paintings, high-resolution video images of the works of the great masters are displayed on “electronic picture frames” that are simply flat-screen video monitors. Bill decided not to spend his money on original works of art and so I did too. Of course his fortune and mine are a little different. Mine comes on the last Wednesday of each month in the form of a Social Security check deposited in my bank account.
So if this interests you at all, be sure to check out the PHOTO OF THE WEEK near the end of this issue. It is a painting by Claude Monet (Meule) that will be auctioned at Christie's in New York next month for an expected price of around $45 million dollars. I downloaded a high-resolution copy from Google Images this morning for free!
Oh, by the way, maybe you have seen all the ridiculous “news” going around this week about the dangers of unsecure and unencrypted paging. They are trying to convince everyone that world will surely end soon and it will be the fault of pagers.
Gimme me a break! Encrypted paging has been available for a while now.
Now on to more news and views.
Wayne County, Illinois
A new issue of the Wireless Messaging Newsletter is posted on the web each week. A notification goes out by e-mail to subscribers on most Fridays around noon central US time. The notification message has a link to the actual newsletter on the web. That way it doesn’t fill up your incoming e-mail account.
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.
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How We Lost Our 4th Amendment Rights to Our Technology Providers
Segment 3 — Executive Summary: Privacy Concerns, Mobile Threats & Legal Questions
By Rex M. Lee
A link is provided at the end of the article to access a nontransparent data mining analysis submitted to the Department of Homeland Security for reference (“DHS Report”). The link will also provide access to an email from T-Mobile for reference (“T-Mobile Admission”).
How we lost our 4 th amendment rights to our technology providers includes the use of predatory pre-installed technologies such as apps. The use of predatory pre-installed apps have been adopted by connected telecom and technology providers such as AT&T, Apple, T-Mobile, Samsung, and Google.
Predatory pre-installed apps include nontransparent application permission statements (legalese) which enable third-party access to protected telecom subscriber related personal and business information cultivated from telecom products such as smartphones.
I filed formal privacy complaints with the FCC against T-Mobile and AT&T (reference DHS report). The complaints highlight privacy concerns, mobile threats, legal questions, and business ethics that need to be addressed by telecom executives, legal experts, consumer advocates, and government agencies such as the FTC and FCC.
The executive summary will center on privacy concerns, mobile threats, and legal questions associated with the use of nontransparent data mining methods that enable lawful third-party access to protected telecom related information.
My privacy concerns and complaints are centered on nontransparent data mining business practices employed by companies such as T-Mobile, Samsung, Google, Apple, AT&T, and third-party pre-installed app and content developers.
My concerns also focus on the legality of third-party access to protected telecom related personal and professional (business/employment) information collected from connected telecom devices such as smartphones which require payment to participate (customer owned products/recurring subscriber fees).
Third-parties include multinational corporations whom manufacture and develop connected telecom products and services such the hardware, operating system (“OS”), pre-installed apps, and third-party apps (users download).
T-Mobile Admission & Questions
I am advocating transparency pertaining to data mining business practices based on my research, documentation, and analysis in light of T-Mobile’s nebulous admission that telecom connected products such as smartphones are not private forms of telecommunication and mobile computing:
“We, too, remember a time before smartphones when it was reasonable to conclude that when you activated service with T-Mobile that only T-Mobile would have access to our. However, with the , the , and , there are indeed that may .” — T-Mobile Privacy Team (November 6th, 2015/FCC Consumer Complaint #423849/Public Record — Reference T-Mobile Admission).
T-Mobile’s nebulous admission only poses more questions and concerns:
For clarity, per your own smartphone purchasing experience:
Example — Figure 1 Nontransparent pre-installed predatory android (Google) app permissions. Third-party access to personal profile (“ID” & contact info), text messages, and social media communications (contains warning to censor speech).
It is important to understand that I am not coming to the conclusion that T-Mobile, Google, Samsung, AT&T, Apple, Microsoft, authorized third-party pre-installed application developers or any company I mention are:
All conclusions will need to be decided by legal experts since my research indicates that all companies concerned are lawfully accessing and using telecom related information collected from telecom products such as smartphones.
It is important for you to know that I am not against data mining for profits. I am not against companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, or telecom providers such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon.
I am seeking transparency pertaining to information acquisition business practices associated with protected telecom connected products and services sold and supported by telecom providers such as AT&T and T-Mobile.
My privacy complaints and concerns (including mobile threats) have nothing to do with data mining paranoia associated with government agencies such as the NSA or law enforcement.
I have yet to stop using my iPhone nor have I told my family to cease using their iPhones. Furthermore, I am not asking that telecom subscribers and authorized device users (spouses, children, employees, govt. personnel, etc.) cease using their connected telecom products and services.
I am only advocating that my questions and concerns be addressed in light of T-Mobile’s admission that telecom products such as smartphones are not private forms of telecommunication or mobile computing.
Privacy & Mobile Threat Concerns and Conflict of Interest
I would like to pose a question prior addressing my concerns:
Below are bullets that highlight privacy concerns, the legal process, mobile threats, and conflict of interest:
Example — Figure 2 Nontransparent pre-installed predatory android (Google) syncing, cross user data mining, and access to Locks & passwords. These app permissions enable third-party multi-source data mining and access to locks and passwords.
Subscribers and authorized device users have no idea they are accepting the combined legalese from all of the companies responsible for the development of the OS and pre-installed apps and content.
The legal process is architected and written in a manner to conceal the data mining business model from the telecom subscriber and authorized device user (see attached DHS report for details).
Due to blind trust, faith, brand loyalty, and the need to participate, most if not all connected telecom device users will simply click on “I agree” accepting the intrusive legalese without reading the fine print.
Example — Figure 3: Pre-installed App Permission Statements by Apple, Microsoft, and android (Google)- Physical Activity & Auto Telematics.
These app permission enable third-parties to monitor the physical activity of the subscriber and authorized device user. Physical activity monitoring includes sitting, walking, running, cycling, fitness, driving and auto telematics such as recording a car’s speed (driving habits).
Example — Figure 4 Pre-installed Predatory App Permissions: Contacts, Calendar Data, & Location. Third-parties can access, collect, and aggregate a telecom device users personal and business contacts and calendar data including attachments that accompany calendar invites via email. What business professional would allow access to their confidential business contacts and calendar events including attachments?
Location tracking includes the ability for third-parties to track users by LTE network, GPS, Wi-Fi AP’s, and other network sources such as nearfield communication (“NFC”) tags. Users can be tracked by many location technologies supported by the device.
Example — Figure 5 Pre-installed Interactive Application Permission Command Strings (BAIDU & Facebook). The BAIDU example is a security threat that was escalated to the FCC, T-Mobile and Samsung. The BAIDU app permission requests location services via the email application.
BAIDU is a search engine (China), so the question is why is android enabling BAIDU access to location services from an email app? To date the FCC, T-Mobile, and Samsung have yet to address the mobile threat I escalated in Nov of 2015.
The Facebook interactive app permission implies that Facebook has access to nearly 100% of the Telecom subscriber’s telecom related personal and business information. I submitted a question to T-Mobile and Samsung to confirm if Facebook is in fact accessing telecom related information from non-Facebook subscribers via connected telecom devices. To date they have not answered the question.
There are a lot of legal questions due to the nontransparent methods used to data mine telecom related motion, location, and sensitive user data.
Legal questions include:
Legal experts, telecom executives, business leaders, advertisers (media outlets), privacy advocates, consumer advocates, govt. agencies, and elected officials need to address the legal questions highlighted by my formal privacy complaints, research, documentation, and analysis coupled with T-Mobile’s admission.
Example — Figure 6 Access to Hardware (Camera and Microphone) and the Internet (Download Files). These app permissions enable third-parties to take pictures, record audio & video without the device users’ knowledge or confirmation.
The network communication app permission enables third-parties to access the internet by a multiple number of ways to import files without the device users’ notification or consent.
If Mark Zuckerberg does not trust his connected technology, why should we?
Whom is Responsible for Nontransparent Predatory Data Mining Business Practices?
T-Mobile distances themselves from the nontransparent data mining business practices of the companies responsible for the development of the OS and pre-installed apps such as Google. For example, see T-Mobiles’ statement below (FCC privacy complaint/ticket# 423849-Rex M. Lee):
“Thank you for taking the time to share your privacy related concerns with us. We understand that you feel the process of informing yourself of the privacy implications when dealing with multiple third-parties in the connected device ecosystem is cumbersome and complicated. We’ve endeavored below to set out some additional data about how T-Mobile evaluates the applications that we pre-install.
Therefore, we cannot speak for Google or Android or its privacy practices. We have observed, as you have, that the Android operating system may in some cases make an attempt to describe the permissions very broadly, to give consumers an awareness of what is possible and not necessarily what occurs in a given case .”
In closing, it would be unsettling to find out if telecom subscribers are paying for connected telecom related products and services that could bring harm to the subscriber and authorized device user.
To access the Department of Homeland Security Nontransparent Data Mining Analysis and the T-Mobile
You can also contact me for a copy of the DHS report and T-Mobile email at
Rex M. Lee
OMNI Messaging Server
MARS (Mobile Alert Response System)
STG (SIP to TAP Gateway)
The Motorola Nucleus II Paging Base Station is a great paging transmitter. The Nucleus I, however, had some problems.
One of the best features of this product was its modular construction. Most of the Nucleus' component parts were in plug-in modules that were field replaceable making maintenance much easier.
One issue was (and still is) that two of the modules had to always be kept together. They are called the “matched pair.”
Motorola used some tricks to keep people in the field from trying to match unmatched pairs, and force them to send SCM and Exciter modules back to the factory for calibrating them with precision laboratory equipment.
The serial numbers have to match in the Nucleus programing software or you can't transmit. Specifically the 4-level alignment ID parameter contained in the SCM has to match the Exciter ID parameter.
Even if someone could modify the programing software to “fudge” these parameters, that would not let them use unmatched modules effectively without recalibrating them to exact factory specifications.
So now that there is no longer a Motorola factory laboratory to send them to, what do we do?
I hope someone can help us resolve this serious problem for users of the Nucleus paging transmitter.
Please let me know if you can help. [ click here ]
[The following news article is a little old, but it is pertinent to the preceding one by Rex Lee.]
AT&T sued over NSA spy program
Civil liberties group files class action lawsuit claiming AT&T illegally opened its network to the National Security Agency.
Kevin Bankston, an EFF staff attorney, said he anticipates that the Bush administration will intervene in the case on behalf of AT&T. "We are definitely going to have a fight with the government and AT&T," he said.
AT&T said Tuesday that it needed to review the complaint before it could respond. But AT&T spokesman Dave Pacholczyk told CNET News.com last week in response to a query about NSA cooperation: "We don't comment on matters of national security."
A Los Angeles Times article dated Dec. 26 quoted an unnamed source as saying the NSA has a "direct hookup" into an AT&T database that stores information about all domestic phone calls, including how long they lasted.
If the Bush administration does intervene, EFF could have a formidable hurdle to overcome: the so-called "state secrets" doctrine.
The state secrets privilege, outlined by the Supreme Court in a 1953 case , permits the government to derail a lawsuit that might otherwise lead to the disclosure of military secrets.
In 1998, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals elaborated on the state secret privilege in a case where former workers at the Air Force's classified Groom Lake, Nev., facility alleged hazardous waste violations. When requested by the workers' lawyers to turn over information, the Air Force refused.
The 9th Circuit upheld a summary judgment on behalf of the Air Force, saying that once the state secrets "privilege is properly invoked and the court is satisfied as to the danger of divulging state secrets, the privilege is absolute" and the case will generally be dismissed.
The Bush administration also is defending a related lawsuit filed earlier this month by the American Civil Liberties Union, that says the surveillance was unconstitutional and illegal.
AT&T has 30 days to file a response, which could include a request that the case be dismissed or a motion for summary judgment.
CNET News.com's Anne Broache contributed to this report.
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Official Photos of Galaxy S7 Edge in Coral Blue Appear
October 28, 2016 — Written By Tom Dawson
With all of the Galaxy Note 7 problems that Samsung has been facing this Fall, it’s time for the firm to look ahead to the future, and while many will be looking ahead to the launch of the Galaxy S8, Samsung still isn’t done with the Galaxy S7, or more specifically the Galaxy S7 Edge. Those that purchased a Galaxy Note 7 were often content to end up with a Galaxy S7 Edge instead, and it has been a constant high-performer for them ever since it was launched back in the Spring of this year. To get some more sales out of the Galaxy S7 Edge, which is important now that the Galaxy Note 7 is no longer on the market, a Blue Coral version of the device has been leaked for some time, and now we’re getting our closer look at the device.
Now, official images of the device have leaked out, and the Blue Coral version of the Galaxy S7 Edge looks pretty nice. These press images have come via Samsung Singapore, where the new hue of the Galaxy S7 Edge will apparently be launching on November 5th for NT$24,900, which is roughly $790 US. Of course, the new color of the device will also be going on sale all over the world in key markets for Samsung, and they will no doubt be hoping to capture some last-minute sales of the year before the Galaxy S8 arrives in the Spring of 2017. Even then, the Galaxy S7 Edge may still be on sale for some time, at a cheaper price, and a color such as this might help to keep it selling throughout the next year as well.
In the photos, we get to see the device in the clearest images yet, and Samsung have mixed together the Coral Blue color with a golden metal frame that runs through the center of the device, creating a nice mix that will appeal to both men and women. Those looking to get a fresh look at the Galaxy S7 Edge in Blue Coral can take a look at the gallery of images below, and fingers crossed it’ll land Stateside before too long.
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Amateur radio provides critical communications when all else fails
Morse code still an option in a dire situation
Luke Moretti, News 4 Reporter
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A catastrophic blackout could takeout modern modes of telecommunications.
And that could spell big trouble for people and agencies that rely on power to communicate via the Internet or cellphones.
“It’s a very big concern throughout the country and the world, said Adam Cohen, special agent in charge of the Buffalo FBI office.
There’s been increased public attention surrounding the possibility of an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, which could overload the power grid and produce widespread blackouts.
“Everybody expects their phones to work and they expect to be able to send a text or an email message when they need to,” said Cohen. “If telecommunications systems are down people won’t be able to reach out to friends or family members.”
It’s also a concern for first responders and emergency operations centers that rely on timely information during a natural disaster or deliberate attack.
“It’s conceivable that you would be without power for months,” said Steven Piotrowski, who works for Erie County Emergency Services.
Piotrowski, an amateur radio operator, says an electromagnetic pulse could come from a massive solar storm, or a high altitude nuclear detonation.
“It could cause substations to fail. It could cause local transformers to fail. The power surge could cause lots of things in your house to fail, or in commercial structures. It could be devastating.”
Piotrowski says most communications sites, especially those dealing with public safety, are engineered to a high standard with backup generators.
“Generators run on fuel. Eventually the fuel would run out and then the sites would start to fail,” he said.
Adam Cohen says a more “realistic event” could involve a cyberattack from a hostile nation-state.
“Or by somebody doing hacking activity against telecommunications systems that could possibly have some significant impacts on our ability to use our telecommunications systems,” Cohen explained.“ It’s conceivable that what is done, or the damage that takes place, could spread throughout the entire national telecommunications system.”
So, then what?
If tried and true types of communications fail because of a natural disaster or deliberate attack — what happens then?
“I believe at the end of the day the old-fashioned type of communication for at least some period of time may be the only way to communicate,” Cohen said.
Cohen is talking about amateur radio and the use of Morse code, a system of sending messages using long and short signals of sound that match letters, which can make words.
Morse code was developed in the 1800s and initially used to transmit messages across telegraph wires.
Think of it as text messaging the old-fashioned way.
“Just dots and dashes,” explained Tony Buscaglia, an accomplished international Morse code operator.
Buscaglia regularly communicates with other ham radio operators around the world from his home on Grand Island. But instead of using his voice, he prefers the fast-fingered technique of dots and dashes.
He says Morse code could be ideal during a dire situation.
“We would be able to set up a fairly low power station using battery power,“ he said. “You don’t require a computer hookup. All those things seem to get complicated, especially when you’re in a hurry to get it up and running.”
Buscaglia, along with Dick Stein and Mark Adams, belong to Niagara Frontier Radiosport, a local amateur radio club.
They say Morse code is a useful alternative to voice transmissions during an emergency.
For one thing, sending the signal doesn’t require much power.
“With the amount of light you use to light up your bathroom, or your hallway at night, we’re communicating all over the world typically using Morse code,” said Mark Adams, a safety engineer at the University at Buffalo. “In a time of crisis, obviously Morse Code is going to work because hams that are trained in it are going to be very proficient.”
Erie County has a pre-established organization of amateur radio operators at its disposal.
If the power goes out and backup communications become necessary, local ham radio operators are ready to step up, according to Steven Piotrowski.
“Morse Code is kind of the mode of last resort,” he said.
Piotrowski says amateur radio operators bring a unique skill set to the table.
“Part of their hobby is building their own antennas. Sometimes building their own radios. Operating in less than optimal conditions. These are all the skills that we would need during a large scale emergency.”
Amateur radio, which requires licensing by the Federal Communications Commission, can be a lot of fun for the hobbyist looking to connect around the globe.
But radio operators have a responsibility to serve the public interest, according to Dick Stein, who’s been licensed since the early 1960s.
“When push comes to shove and there’s a need for emergency communications, they want you to jump in the pool. They don’t want you sitting on a chaise lounge with a beer in your hand,” said Stein. “If you want to get a license you have to be prepared and ready to operate. Being part of emergency communications is a mandate to have a license.”
According to the American Radio Relay League, there are over 741,000 active amateur radio licenses in the U.S., and around 3 million operators in the world.
Dick Stein says there are no boundaries when it comes to amateur radio, and that the political world goes away.
“We’re friends regardless of where we live and what our political thought process is.”
While many hams use Morse code for fun, this old-school technology — as a last resort — could be the answer when normal communications fail.
Adam Cohen remembers how panicked people were following the 9/11 attacks in New York City.
“When you picked up your phone and nothing would happen. It wouldn’t work. That’s multiplied significantly now,” he said. “I believe that if an incident were to happen that did take down those systems you would see a lot of people completely paralyzed with not knowing how do they communicate with other people.”
Amateur radio provides a vital communications link during emergencies. Operators have done it numerous times with hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters.
If something did happen in the Western New York region, Steve Piotrowski says there’s a plan in place to use ham radio if necessary.
“We would expect that we would staff radio operators at every hospital in Western New York, he explained. “There’s ham radio equipment that’s pre-positioned at all the hospitals. All we need is the operators.”
Whether it’s voice communication, or Morse code in the most dire circumstances, the technology is there to make a difference.
“We’re going to be there with our radios, and we’re going to be helping the local first responders to communicate when they’re down. It’s happened over and over again,” Dick Stein added.
Disaster-Proven Paging for Public Safety
Paging system designs in the United States typically use a voice radio-style infrastructure. These systems are primarily designed for outdoor mobile coverage with modest indoor coverage. Before Narrowbanding, coverage wasn’t good, but what they have now is not acceptable! The high power, high tower approach also makes the system vulnerable. If one base station fails, a large area loses their paging service immediately!
Almost every technology went from analog to digital except fire paging. So it’s time to think about digital paging! The Disaster-Proven Paging Solution (DiCal) from Swissphone offers improved coverage, higher reliability and flexibility beyond anything that traditional analog or digital paging systems can provide.
Swissphone is the No. 1 supplier for digital paging solutions worldwide. The Swiss company has built paging networks for public safety organizations all over the world. Swissphone has more than 1 million pagers in the field running for years and years due to their renowned high quality.
DiCal is the digital paging system developed and manufactured by Swissphone. It is designed to meet the specific needs of public safety organizations. Fire and EMS rely on these types of networks to improve incident response time. DiCal systems are designed and engineered to provide maximum indoor paging coverage across an entire county. In a disaster situation, when one or several connections in a simulcast solution are disrupted or interrupted, the radio network automatically switches to fall back operating mode. Full functionality is preserved at all times. This new system is the next level of what we know as “Simulcast Paging” here in the U.S.
Swissphone offers high-quality pagers, very robust and waterproof. Swissphone offers the best sensitivity in the industry, and battery autonomy of up to three months. First responder may choose between a smart s.QUAD pager, which is able to connect with a smartphone and the Hurricane DUO pager, the only digital pager who offers text-to-voice functionality.
Bluetooth technology makes it possible to connect the s.QUAD with a compatible smartphone, and ultimately with various s.ONE software solutions from Swissphone. Thanks to Bluetooth pairing, the s.QUAD combines the reliability of an independent paging system with the benefits of commercial cellular network. Dispatched team members can respond back to the call, directly from the pager. The alert message is sent to the pager via paging and cellular at the same time. This hybrid solution makes the alert faster and more secure. Paging ensures alerting even if the commercial network fails or is overloaded.
Swissphone sets new standards in paging:
Swissphone provides a proven solution at an affordable cost. Do you want to learn more?
AT&T a “Spy for Hire” with Project Hemisphere and ‘Warrantless Surveillance’
AT&T’s massive infrastructure in America includes landline switches, towers and metadata, all of which are mandated by law. Data can be made available via search warrant, however. The Daily Beast reported that the telecom giant may be using its infrastructure power for “spy-for-hire” purposes.
The Daily Beast reported that AT&T’s Project Hemisphere is providing “warrantless surveillance” to the government, which are gray areas by law. The company, in turn, is making millions of dollars in tax money. The New York Times first reported on Project Hemisphere in 2013, when its specialty was for anti-drug operations. Engadget said that if The Daily Beast’s accusations are true, Hemisphere is now being used to mine data for more crimes, including murder and Medicaid fraud. Reportedly, AT&T is giving investigators location information (where the suspect made the call) and who the suspect was speaking to, which is usually information that is given only via warrant.
AT&T told The Daily Beast that “there is no special database,” however Engadget noted that its site “sources leaked documents where AT&T specifically requests that its name isn't used in judicial proceedings.” Engadget said it is an “outsized request to protect its privacy.”
Wireless Communication Solutions
USB Paging Encoder
Paging Data Receiver (PDR)
Please see our web site for other products including Internet Messaging Gateways, Unified Messaging Servers, test equipment, and Paging Terminals.
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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.
Stage 3 of the Reverse Auction to Begin November 1
On October 25, the FCC announced a November 1 start date for Stage 3 of the reverse auction, and a clearing target of 108 megahertz of spectrum. The resulting band plan will yield eight (8) paired channel blocks for forward auction bidding. The band plan will consist of 3,301 Category 1 blocks (zero to 15 percent impairment) and just two Category 2 blocks (greater than 15 percent and up to 50 percent impairment). Approximately 99.9 percent of the blocks offered will be Category 1 blocks, and 99.9 percent of the Category 1 blocks will be zero percent impaired. The only markets with impaired blocks appear to be Southern California, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona PEAs that are in proximity to Mexico. Based on the previous stages of the reverse auction, we expect that Stage 3 of the reverse auction may take 2 to 3 weeks, at which time the FCC will announce the band clearing cost. Bidding in the forward auction should begin approximately four business days after the close of Stage 3 of the reverse auction. With bidding in the reverse auction starting November 1, we expect the start date for Stage 3 of the forward auction to be around the Thanksgiving holiday.
Comment Deadlines Established for Independent Programming NPRM
On October 25, the FCC issued a Public Notice announcing the comment deadlines for its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in MB Docket No. 16-41 that, “aims to foster consumer choice and access to diverse programming on television by prohibiting the use of “unconditional” most favored nation provisions and “unreasonable” alternative distribution method provisions in pay-TV programming distribution contracts that impede carriage of independent and diverse programming.” Comments are due December 27, and reply comments are due January 23, 2017.
An “unconditional” MFN clause entitles a pay TV provider to receive favorable contract terms that a programmer has given to another programming distributor, without requiring the pay TV provider to assume any corresponding obligations from the other distribution agreement. An ADM clause generally prohibits or limits a programmer from putting its programming on alternative video distribution platforms, such as online platforms. According to the FCC, these clauses “limit the incentives and ability of independent programmers to experiment with innovative carriage terms and to license their content on alternative, innovative platforms, restrictive contract provisions deprive consumers of the benefits that otherwise would flow from enhanced competition in the video programming and distribution marketplace.”
Deployment Obligation Comparison; Budget Control Calculation for Rate-of-Return Carriers Released
On October 20, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau announced the posting of information comparing the defined deployment obligations that would apply to rate-of-return carriers electing model-based support versus the defined deployment obligations for rate-of-return carriers remaining on the reformed legacy universal service mechanisms (including Connect America Fund-Broadband Loop Support, or CAF-BLS).
On August 3, 2016, the Bureau announced the offers of Alternative Connect America Cost Model (A-CAM) model support and a report showing the service obligations that must be fulfilled over a ten-year period within eligible census blocks in a given state by rate-of-return carriers electing to receive model-based support. On October 6, 2016, the Bureau posted information regarding the obligation to newly deploy broadband that must be fulfilled over a five-year period by rate-of-return carriers remaining on the reformed legacy universal service mechanisms. The state-wide obligation for each rate-of-return carrier under these alternatives is available at: https://transition.fcc.gov/wcb/ACAM_231_Summary_CAFBLS_oblig_102016_Final.xlsx .
On October 25, the Bureau announced the posting of the budget control mechanism calculations for rate-of-return carriers for the period from January 1, 2017 through June 30, 2017. As required by the Rate-of-Return Reform Order, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) has calculated the total support available to be distributed to rate-of-return carriers and adjustments to each carrier’s support to implement the Commission’s mechanism to ensure that disbursements remain within the $2 billion budget adopted in 2011 and made this information available at http://www.usac.org/hc/program-requirements/budget-control-rate-of-return.aspx . The new support amounts announced by USAC will apply to support payments beginning in January 2017.
Comment Sought on World Radiocommunication Conference Committee
On October 25, the FCC released a Public Notice seeking comments on the draft recommendations of the World Radiocommunication Conference Advisory Committee, which will be considered at the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19). Comments are due November 8.
The FCC’s International Bureau, in coordination with other FCC Bureaus and Offices, tentatively concluded that they can generally support most of the WRC-19 Advisory Committee draft recommendations. Comment is sought on both the draft recommendations provided by the WRC-19 Advisory Committee and on the International Bureau’s initial conclusions with regard to the WRC-19 Advisory Committee draft recommendations. Those documents can be found here .
Law & Regulation
FCC Issues Official Open Meeting Agenda; Reschedules Hour
On October 25, the FCC issued a Public Notice confirming that the following items will be considered at tomorrow’s Open Meeting:
Unlike previous Open Meetings, this month’s meeting is scheduled to commence at 9:30 a.m. EST (an hour earlier than usual). It will be webcast live at www.fcc.gov/live .
FCC Imposes $100,000 Fine for Failure to Register
On October 26, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau issued a Forfeiture Order imposing a penalty of $100,000 against Simple Network, Inc. for providing interstate telecommunications services without previously registering with the Commission as required by Section 64.1195 of the FCC’s rules. According to the Bureau, Simple Network’s failure to register allowed it to avoid making required payments to the relevant federal programs, which gave it an unfair economic advantage over competing companies that complied with the rules.
In response to the original Notice of Apparent Liability, Simple Network argued that it provides “international services and thus it is not required to pay into the Universal Service Fund,” and that it is unable to pay the forfeiture. The first argument is incorrect on its face; the rules clearly state that all providers of interstate telecommunications services, including prepaid calling card service providers and providers of international telecommunications, are required to contribute to the USF, TRS Fund, and numbering support mechanisms, and pay regulatory fees, which in turn requires them to register with the FCC by filing a Form 499-A. The Bureau further found that the only documentation submitted in support of Simple Network’s claim of financial hardship were the U.S. income tax returns the Company provided with its NAL Response, which demonstrated adequate gross revenues despite the fact that it was operating at a loss.
FCC Settles Slamming Case for $240,000
On October 21, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau issued an Order announcing that it had entered into a consent decree with Roman LD, Inc. to resolve the company’s Notice of Apparent Liability for submitting requests to switch consumers’ preferred long distance telephone carrier without authorization. The NAL also found that Roman, acting through its telemarketers, apparently engaged in deceptive marketing, by impersonating customers’ existing carrier, to obtain information that the Company then used to fabricate audio recordings as evidence of consumer authorization. The Consent Decree also resolves the Commission’s investigation into whether Roman failed to seek and obtain Commission approval before transferring control of the Company to Ms. Monotaz Begum.
To settle the matter, Roman admits making misrepresentations to consumers, fabricating verification recordings, engaging in “slamming,” and unlawfully transferring control of the Company. Roman will implement a compliance plan, and will pay a $240,000 civil penalty. In the event of default, the Consent Decree also requires Roman to pay an additional civil penalty in the amount of $5,900,000, less any amounts previously paid.
AT&T Reaches Deal to Buy Time Warner for $85.4 Billion; Catches Wide Criticism
This week, AT&T announced it reached a deal to buy Time Warner, which owns HBO, CNN and the Warner Bros. studio, for $85 billion in cash and stock. According to one reporter, “Conventional financial analysis cannot justify the whopping premium on offer.”
Business Insider reports that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump vowed to block the acquisition, and that Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said he’s “skeptical of huge media mergers because they lead to higher costs, fewer choices, and even worse service for customers.” The LA Times speculates that, “If federal authorities play this correctly, the AT&T-Time Warner merger actually could be beneficial for consumers. What they should do is press the case for skinny bundles and a la carte channels.”
USA Today wrote , “The acquisition, which marries partners in distribution and content, will trigger multiple layers of complexity for customers, industry regulators, investors and consumer watchdogs as they sort out revenue possibilities and conflicts of interest. But competitors of Time Warner or AT&T can no longer afford to stand by idly.”
NOVEMBER 1: FCC FORM 499-Q, TELECOMMUNICATIONS REPORTING WORKSHEET. All telecommunications common carriers that expect to contribute more than $10,000 to federal Universal Service Fund (USF) support mechanisms must file this quarterly form. The FCC has modified this form in light of its decision to establish interim measures for USF contribution assessments. The form contains revenue information from the prior quarter plus projections for the next quarter. Form 499-Q relates only to USF contributions. It does not relate to the cost recovery mechanisms for the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund, the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA), and the shared costs of local number portability (LNP), which are covered in the annual Form 499-A that is due April 1.
JANUARY 15: HAC REPORTING DEADLINE. The next Hearing Aid Compatible (HAC) reporting deadline for digital commercial mobile radio service (CMRS) providers (including carriers that provide service using AWS-1 spectrum and resellers of cellular, broadband PCS and/or AWS services) is January 15, 2017. Non- Tier I service providers must offer to consumers at least 50 percent of the handset models per air interface, or a minimum of ten handset models per air interface, that meet or exceed the M3 rating, and at least one-third of the handset models per air interface, or a minimum of ten handset models per air interface, that meet or exceed the T3 rating. Month-to-month handset offering information provided in annual reports must be current through the end of 2016. With many of our clients adjusting their handset offerings and making new devices available to customers throughout the year, it is very easy for even the most diligent carriers to stumble unknowingly into a non-compliance situation, resulting in fines starting at $15,000 for each HAC-enabled handset they are deficient. ALL SERVICE PROVIDERS SUBJECT TO THE COMMISSION’S HAC RULES — INCLUDING COMPANIES THAT QUALIFY FOR THE DE MINIMIS EXCEPTION — MUST PARTICIPATE IN ANNUAL HAC REPORTING. To the extent that your company is a provider of broadband PCS, cellular and/or interconnected SMR services, if you are a CMRS reseller and/or if you have plans to provide CMRS using newly licensed (or partitioned) AWS or 700 MHz spectrum, you and your company will need to be familiar with the Commission’s revised rules.
|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 firstname.lastname@example.org .|
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|LETTERS TO THE EDITOR|
I'm representing the generation [in] which messaging started by talking — In 60s and 70s. The pagers invented for the one-way communication [of the] 80s — there wasn't anything new in messaging words but [then] the mobile came. In Scandinavia came the NMT (Nordic Mobile Telephone) which was originally working on 450 MHz area analogue system. It supported roaming!
In [the] early 90s the 1 st GSM networks opened (the 1 st was Radiolinja in Finland, today part of Elisa Plc.). GSM changed our communication behaviour, it has SMS (Short Message Service) built in. That changed our communication behaviour.
Today mobile phone is not any more a mobile phone. It is a gadget to communicate to our friends, family and partners. We are using Whatapp, Snapchat, and even Skype (like me since 2000).
Nokia didn't recognise this mega-trend, luckily they sold their mobile business to Microsoft.
Funny how far a short story of messaging drives you ;-)
|UNTIL NEXT WEEK|
|THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK|
“People discuss my art and pretend to understand as if it were necessary to understand, when it's simply necessary to love.”
— Claude Monet
|PHOTO OF THE WEEK|
One of the last of Monet’s momentous Grainstack series in private hands
A highlight of the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale, Meule will go on show at Christie’s in New York before 16 November auction
Executed over the winter of 1890-1891, Claude Monet’s Grainstack series was the most challenging and revolutionary endeavour the artist, then aged 50, had ever undertaken.
Monet had experimented during the later 1880s with depicting a single landscape subject under different lighting and weather conditions, but he had never conceived of painting so many pictures — some 25 canvases in all — that were differentiated almost entirely through colour, touch and atmospheric effect.
The artist had only to walk out of his house in rural Giverny to find his motif. Setting up his easel near the boundary wall of his garden, he looked west or southwest across the field known as the Clos Morin towards the hills on the far bank of the Seine. There, following the harvest, local farmers piled hundreds of sheaves of bound wheat stalks into tightly packed stacks with thatched conical roofs. These grainstacks represented the fruits of the local farmers’ labours and their hopes for the future.
Monet and his art dealer Durand-Ruel exhibited 15 Meules in May 1891 to great acclaim, and by the close of the year, all but two of the Grainstacks had left the artist’s studio.
A highlight of Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 16 November in New York, Meule (1891) is among the most formally adventurous of all the Grainstacks. It is also one of five paintings from the series that the American-based dealer Knoedler selected from the artist in September 1891, and the only one from that group to still be in private hands.
The majority of the Grainstacks series are now housed in major art museums around the world, including the Musée d’Orsay, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago and the National Gallery of Scotland.
Meule will be exhibited for the first time in Asia at Christie’s Hong Kong (17-19 October), whereupon it will be toured to Christie’s London (24-25 October) before going on display to the public at Christie’s Rockefeller Center galleries in New York from 5 November.
Prices for exceptional examples of Monet’s work have soared in recent years, driven by demand from collectors worldwide for museum-quality works by the greatest master of the Impressionist period. The top price at auction for any Monet painting is $80.4 million for Le Bassin aux Nympheas from 1919 , sold at Christie’s London in June 2008 against an estimate of $35-47 million.
‘We have been extremely aware of the growing pass ion for classic Impressionist paintings among our leading Asian collectors,’ remarked Jussi Pylkkänen, Christie’s Global President, ‘and this work is simply a masterpiece by Monet, the genius of plein air painting.’
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