BloostonLaw Telecom Update
Published by the Law Offices of Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP
[Selected portions reproduced here with the firm's permission.]
| Vol. 10, No. 49 || December 12, 2007 |
New CPNI Rules Require Filing Annual Certification With FCC By March 1
With the FCC’s new customer proprietary network information (CPNI) rules now in effect as of December 8, clients should modify and complete the “Annual Certification of CPNI Compliance” shortly after the beginning of the new calendar year (2008) for the prior calendar year (2007). Although the rules do not specify when you should execute the certification, we recommend you do it as soon as possible after the end of the year.
Note that the annual certification should include the following three required Exhibits: (a) the 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) the Statement of Actions Taken Against Data Brokers; and (c) the Summary of Customer Complaints Regarding Unauthorized Release of CPNI. When completed shortly after the beginning of each calendar year, a company officer with personal knowledge that the company has established operating procedures adequate to ensure compliance with the rules should execute the Certification, place a copy of the Certification and accompanying Exhibits in the Company’s CPNI Compliance Records, and forward the original to BloostonLaw no later than Feb. 15 for filing with the FCC. THE CERTIFICATION AND EXHIBITS MUST BE UPDATED AND RE-EXECUTED EACH YEAR BY AN OFFICER OF THE COMPANY, AND FILED WITH THE FCC ON OR BEFORE MARCH 1. CLIENTS THAT HAVE NOT YET PREPARED AND SIGNED A 2006 CERTIFICATION SHOULD DO SO BY YEAR END 2007.
Clients interested in obtaining BloostonLaw's CPNI compliance manual should contact Gerry Duffy (202-828-5528) or Mary Sisak (202-828- 5554).
FCC Proposes Eliminating Need To Re-register Do Not Call Numbers Indefinitely
The FCC has released the text of its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), tentatively concluding that it should require telemarketers to honor registrations with the National Do-Not-Call Registry indefinitely, so that current registrations will not automatically expire based on the current five year registration period. Initial registrations are set to expire next year, five years after the launch of the program in 2003. The FCC proposes extending this requirement indefinitely to minimize the inconvenience to consumers of having to re-register their preferences not to receive telemarketing calls and to further the underlying goal of the National Registry to protect consumer privacy rights. The FCC seeks comment on this tentative conclusion and how to most effectively implement this proposed change.
More specifically, the FCC tentatively concludes that it should amend its rules so that telemarketers will be required to honor registrations with the National Do-Not-Call Registry until the registration is canceled by the consumer or the telephone number is removed by the database administrator because it was disconnected or reassigned. The FCC seeks comment on this tentative conclusion and how to implement this rule change in coordination with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The National Do-Not-Call Registry was adopted in large part to make it easier and more efficient for consumers to prevent unwanted telemarketing calls. As explained in Reports to Congress, the Commission believes the number of telephone numbers added to the Registry and the FCC’s experience in both helping to ensure compliance with the Registry and in enforcing the do-not-call rules are strong indicators that the Registry has been successful in curbing the number of unwanted telemarketing calls.
Therefore, the FCC said it is concerned that, starting June 28, 2008, five years after the opening of the Registry, as many as 10 million registered numbers will expire and be automatically removed from the database, unless consumers take steps to re-register the numbers. By August 2008, as many as 20 million additional numbers will potentially expire and be purged from the Registry.
Such expirations will leave millions of consumers without protection against unwanted telemarketing calls — protections they have come to rely on since registering their numbers in 2003. Removing the current five-year expiration term will alleviate any burdens on consumers associated with re-registering numbers, including the time and effort necessary to register and the need to remember when to re-register.
The FCC believes requiring telemarketers to continue honoring do-not-call registrations will also minimize any consumer confusion resulting from a sudden increase in telemarketing calls received when registrations begin to expire next year. In addition, eliminating the need to reregister numbers every five years should lower the cost of operating the National Registry.
In adopting the National Registry, the Commission was mindful of concerns regarding the accuracy of the database. Initially, the Commission determined that a re-registration requirement should be included given that telephone numbers change hands, are disconnected and reassigned over time. However, the FCC believes the database administrator’s use of technology to check all registered telephone numbers on a monthly basis and remove those numbers that have been disconnected or reassigned will maintain the database’s high-level of accuracy. In addition, consumers will continue to be able to verify or cancel their registration status using either the telephone or Internet. Allowing consumers to verify their registration status or cancel their registrations at any time also enhances the accuracy of the National Registry.
The FCC recognizes that absent a similar change in the FTC’s policies, numbers that have been in the Registry for five years may be purged by the database administrator beginning in June 2008, and that telemarketers will no longer have access to those numbers in order to avoid calling them. The FCC notes, however, that the FTC recently committed that “it will not drop any telephone numbers from the Registry based on the five-year expiration period pending final Congressional or agency action on whether to make registration permanent.”
The FCC said it envisions working closely with the FTC to ensure that telephone numbers are not removed at the end of the five-year registration period, and that telemarketers continue to have access to those numbers. The FCC seeks comment on how best to coordinate with the FTC to most effectively institute this rule change in a meaningful, consistent way.
In light of the FCC’s tentative conclusion and the FTC’s indication that it will retain registrations after the five-year period, the Commission believes the Registry will continue to operate as it does today. The FCC therefore seeks comment on what impact, if any, its proposed rule change would have on telemarketers, particularly small businesses. Because telemarketers would be required to continue honoring do-not-call registrations as they do now, the FCC tentatively concludes that the enhanced consumer privacy protections created by this proposed rule amendment, taken in conjunction with the benefits to the federal government in administering the National Registry, outweigh any potential impact.
The FCC tentatively concludes that requiring telemarketers to honor registrations on the National Do-Not-Call Registry indefinitely will greatly enhance consumer privacy interests. The FCC seeks comment on this tentative conclusion and on how best to coordinate this rule change with the FTC. The FCC believes making registrations permanent adequately balances the need to maintain a high level of accuracy in the National Registry with the desire to have a simple and effective means to limit unwanted telemarketing calls. Comments in this CG Docket No. 02-278 proceeding will be due 30 days after publication of the item in the Federal Register, and replies will be due 15 days thereafter. BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
FCC PLACES MEDIA OWNERSHIP RULES ON OPEN MEETING AGENDA: The FCC has scheduled a vote on media ownership rules for its December 18 open meeting. It is well known that Chairman Kevin Martin favors allowing companies to own a newspaper and a broadcast station in the top markets, but that many lawmakers oppose relaxing the rules to this extent. In fact, the Senate Commerce Committee last week unanimously approved bipartisan legislation that would halt for at least six months a proposal to let companies own a newspaper and broadcast station in the same city. The Media Ownership Act of 2007 (S. 2336) is not likely to pass Congress before the FCC's expected vote next week, but it appears to be a strong signal for the FCC to delay the vote. Committee Chairman Daniel K. Innouye (D-Hawaii) said: “Transparency in the FCC’s media ownership proceedings is not only fair, it is right. This bill encourages the FCC to provide a forum for meaningful discussion and brings us a step closer to balanced media ownership rules.” Martin also faced strong questions on the issue at a House telecom subcommittee hearing the same day. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, lawmakers from both parties have complained that Martin is circumventing proper procedure in trying to allow companies to own a newspaper and broadcast station in the 20 largest U.S. markets. They want time for more public comment on the proposal, which was announced by Martin on Nov. 13. They also want the FCC first to complete a previously promised review of ways to ensure that broadcasters serve their local communities, and take steps to increase ownership of TV and radio stations by women and minorities. But Martin apparently was not deterred by the signal: The item was placed on the FCC’s meeting agenda. Specifically, the Commission will consider a Report and Order concerning its media ownership regulations in accordance with Section 202(h) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The Report and Order also addresses the relevant issues remanded by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia in Prometheus Radio Project, et al. v. FCC., 373 F.3d 372 (2004), and responds to petitions for reconsideration of the 2002 Biennial Review Order. The Commission will also consider a Report and Order and Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning initiatives designed to increase participation in the broadcasting industry by new entrants and small businesses, including minority- and women-owned businesses; a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on trends in embedded advertising and the efficacy of the current sponsorship identification rules with regard to embedded advertising; a Report and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking prepared in its Broadcasting Localism proceeding; and a Fourth Report and Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking establishing the cable horizontal ownership limit and seeking comment on vertical ownership limits and cable and broadcast attribution rules for purposes of promoting a diverse and competitive market in the acquisition and delivery of multichannel video programming. Further the Commission will consider a Twelfth Annual Report and Analysis of Competitive Market Conditions with Respect to Commercial Mobile Services, and a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking additional comment on the appropriate rules and policies for licensing satellite digital audio radio service (SDARS) terrestrial repeaters in the 2320-2345 MHz frequency band, and will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on facilitating the coexistence of SDARS and Wireless Communications Service licensees. As with past meetings, clients should note that one or mote items could be deleted from the agenda prior to the meeting. BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
FCC PROPOSES THAT CONGRESS ADOPT NEW TAX INCENTIVE PROGRAM FOR SMALL BUSINESSES: In its Section 257 Report to Congress, Identifying Market Entry Barriers for Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses, the FCC proposed that Congress adopt a new tax incentive program that would authorize the provision of tax advantages to eligible companies involved in the sale of communications businesses to small firms, including those owned by women and minorities. The proposed program could permit deferral of the taxes on any capital gain involved in such a transaction, as long as that gain is reinvested in one or more qualifying communications business(es). The proposed program could also permit tax credits for sellers of communications properties who offer financing to small firms. Additional conditions might include restrictions on the size of the eligible purchasing firm, a minimum holding period for the purchased firm, and a cap on the total value of eligible transactions. The provision of tax advantages has proven to encourage the diversification of ownership and to provide opportunities for entry into the communications industry for small businesses, including disadvantaged businesses and businesses owned by minorities and women. Commissioner Michael Copps said he supported the item “insofar as it recommends that Congress adopt a new tax incentive program. A properly structured tax certificate program could help reverse the shameful minority and female ownership trends in recent years. But as welcome as this recommendation is, it does not let the Commission off the hook for addressing this issue in a comprehensive manner, nor can it be allowed to serve as a smoke screen for additional consolidation that will only make the problem worse.” BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
DECEMBER 30: FCC FORM 507, ICLS QUARTERLY LINE COUNT UPDATE: All wireline and wireless eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs), with competitors (CETCs) operating in their study areas, must file quarterly line count updates with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) to receive Interstate Common Line Support (ICLS). The December 30 report includes lines served as of June 30, 2007. This data is used to calculate an ETC’s per-line universal service support. CETCs are also required to file quarterly line count updates. However, an ETC without competition is not required to file Form 507, but may do so on a voluntary basis. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
JANUARY 1: CARRIERS MUST NOTIFY CUSTOMERS OF “DO NOT CALL” OPTIONS: The FCC requires each common carrier (wireline and wireless) offering local exchange service to inform subscribers of the opportunity to provide notification to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that the subscriber objects to receiving telephone solicitations. The carrier must inform subscribers of (1) their right to give or revoke a notification of their objection to receiving telephone solicitations pursuant to the national “Do Not Call” database; and (2) the methods by which such rights may be exercised. Beginning on January 1, 2004, and annually thereafter, such common carriers shall provide an annual notice, via an insert in the customer’s bill, to inform their subscribers of the opportunity to register or revoke registrations on the national Do Not Call database. BloostonLaw will provide clients with the wording for an appropriate notice upon request. BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
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. New this year is that reporting carriers are required to include their FCC Registration Number (FRN). Reporting carriers file utilization and forecast reports semiannually on or before February 1 for the preceding six-month reporting period ending December 31, and on or before August 1 for the preceding six-month reporting period ending June 30. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
MARCH 1: FCC FORM 477, LOCAL COMPETITION AND BROADBAND REPORTING FORM. The current form has two categories: First, all providers of local telephone service, including cellular and PCS carriers, that serve 10,000 or more voice-grade equivalent lines or 10,000 or more wireless channels (or customers) in a given state must file Form 477 for that state. Second, facilities-based providers that serve at least 250 one-way or two-way broadband service lines (in excess of 200 Kbps) or 250 or more wireless broadband customers in a given state must file Form 477 for that state. Such providers may include incumbent and competitive local exchange carriers (LECsl), cable companies, fixed wireless service providers, multipoint distribution service (MDS) providers, utilities, and others. Entities that only resell broadband services should not report broadband lines or customers on Form 477. In particular, an Internet service provider (ISP) that purchases broadband service from another entity should not report such lines or customers. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.