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. 11, No. 2 || January 18, 2008 |
214 Bidders Qualify To Participate in Auction 73
The FCC has found 214 applicants qualified to bid on 700 MHz Band licenses in Auction No. 73, scheduled to begin January 24.
In a Public Notice released late Monday, the FCC reminded applicants that it will not disclose information that may indicate specific applicants’ interests in the auction—including license selections, upfront payments, eligibility, and identities of bidders—until after the close of Auctions 73 and 76.
Clients should therefore avoid discussing or disclosing any information regarding bids, bid strategy, or matters that could influence the post-auction market structure. Examples of prohibited communication include statements to the press about upfront payments, bidding eligibility, and/or whether a company is or is not interested in bidding in Auction 73 or Auction 76. The anti-collusion rules will remain in effect until after the down payment deadline following the close of bidding in Auction 73, and may be extended until after the down payment deadline following the close of bidding in Auction 76, should the FCC determine that it needs to hold a re-auction.
The mock auction is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday, January 22.
Auction 73 is scheduled to begin Thursday, January 24, with two rounds of bidding:
Bidding Round 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET
Bidding Round 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. ET
The bidding schedule for Friday, January 25, and continuing until further notice is:
Bidding Round 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. ET
Bidding Round 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. ET
Bidding Round 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. ET
BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, John Prendergast, Cary Mitchell, and Bob Jackson.
PUBLIC INTEREST GROUPS SEEK “ANTIDISCRIMINATION” CLASSIFICATION FOR TEXT MESSAGING: On December 11, 2007, Public Knowledge, Free Press, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, EDUCAUSE, Media Access Project, New America Foundation, and U.S. PIRG filed a joint petition for declaratory ruling, asking the FCC to clarify the regulatory status of text messaging services, including short-code based services sent from and received by mobile phones, and declare that these services are governed by the anti-discrimination provisions of Title II of the Communications Act. The Petitioners assert that text messaging is “rapidly becoming a major mode of speech, as a replacement for and a complement to traditional voice communications,” and that “short codes are developing into an important tool for political and social outreach.” The Petitioners allege that mobile carriers “arbitrarily decide what customers to serve and which speech to allow in text messages, refusing to serve those that they find controversial or that compete with the mobile carriers’ services.” The Petitioners request that the Commission declare that text messaging services are “commercial mobile services” governed by Title II, and thus are subject to the non-discrimination provisions of Section 202. Alternatively, the Petitioners request that, if the Commission declares that these services are “information services” subject to its Title I authority, the Commission should exercise ancillary jurisdiction to apply the non-discrimination provisions of Title II to text messaging services. Petitioners also request that, in either case, the Commission should declare that refusing to provision a short code or otherwise blocking text messages because of the type of speech, or because the party seeking such service is a competitor, is “unjust and unreasonable discrimination” in violation of law. Comments in this WT Docket No. 08-7 proceeding are due February 13, and replies are due March 14. BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
FCC SEEKS COMMENT ON NETWORK NEUTRALITY: On November 14, 2007, Vuze, Inc. filed a Petition for Rulemaking requesting that the Commission initiate a rulemaking proceeding to clarify what constitutes “‘reasonable network management,’ by broadband network operators and to establish that such network management does not permit network operators to block, degrade or unreasonably discriminate against lawful Internet applications, content or technologies” as used in the Commission’s Internet Policy Statement. The Commission is essentially seeking comment on whether its guidelines on “network neutrality” would prevent Internet network operators from discriminating against certain applications used over their networks. Comments in this WC Docket No. 07-52 proceeding are due February 13, and replies are due February 28. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
FCC OPEN MEETING TO FOCUS ON STAFF PRESENTATIONS: The FCC has scheduled an open meeting for Thursday, January 17. The meeting will focus on the Commission’s strategic plan. Commission staff will review agency policies and procedures. Panel One will feature the Managing Director and the Chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau. Panel Two will feature the Chiefs of the Media Bureau and the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau. Panel Three will feature the Chiefs of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, and the Office of Engineering and Technology. Panel Four will feature the Chiefs of the International Bureau and the Enforcement Bureau. BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
KANSAS REQUIRES INTERCONNECTED VoIP PROVIDERS TO CONTRIBUTE TO STATE USF: The Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) has determined that interconnected voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) service providers should be required to contribute to the Kansas Universal Service Fund (KUSF). The decision makes Kansas one of only a small number of states which have imposed state USF obligations on interconnected VoIP service providers. The KCC cited a number of federal provisions as support for its decision, including Section 254(f) of the 1996 federal Telecommunications Act, which provides authority for states to adopt regulations to preserve and advance universal service, as long as the state regulations aren't inconsistent with FCC rules. "Clearly, adding another base of contributors, i.e. the Interconnected VoIP providers, which are already contributing at the federal level, and which would provide additional funds to the KUSF, does not run afoul of Section 254(f). In fact, one might argue that not including such contributors in a state fund is inconsistent with Section 254(f)," the KCC said. It added that at least two states—New Mexico and Nebraska—require interconnected VoIP providers to contribute to their funds, and have done so without facing a claim of federal preemption. “No party in this docket has demonstrated that contributing to the KUSF would have a prohibitive effect on their service offering regardless of how it is classified or defined,” the KCC said. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
VIRGINIA CONSIDERS BANNING TEXTING WHILE DRIVING: The Virginia General Assembly, which began its 60-day session last Wednesday, is considering a pair of bills that would ban texting while driving a car, bicycle, motorcycle, moped or even an electric wheelchair. Lawmakers in four other states, including Maryland, are considering similar proposals, according to the Washington Post. The newspaper reports that Virginia legislators have tried in recent years to ban handheld cellphone use by adult drivers but have not been successful. A year ago, they made it illegal for teenagers under 18 to talk, send text messages or snap photos with a cellphone while driving, but they can be cited only if they are stopped for another offense. This year, supporters say they hope to push a bill that forbids at least some cellphone use, now that drivers are doing more than just talking behind the wheel. Lawmakers in several states are trying to keep up with the latest driver-distraction phenomenon by banning texting, or prohibiting all cellphone use, while driving. In Maryland, where lawmakers also convened this week, a bill has been introduced that would prohibit the use of hand-held phones by all drivers. Another proposal may be on the way that would cover only texting. Six states considered anti-texting laws in 2007; Washington state and New Jersey passed laws, as did the city of Phoenix, Arizona. Five other states and the District of Columbia prohibit drivers from using hand-held phones while driving. Virginia and Maryland have considered an outright cellphone ban for adult drivers almost every year since at least 2001. Maryland banned cellphone use for teens with learner's permits in 2005, and Virginia made it illegal for drivers younger than 18 in 2007. According to the Post, the first reported accident caused by texting may have been in Tennessee in 2005, when a man died after he lost control of his pickup truck and plunged down an embankment. Texting while driving has become popular only in recent years, and few studies specifically measure that distraction. A 2007 study by Nationwide Mutual Insurance estimated that 73 percent of drivers use phones while driving and 20 percent text while behind the wheel. BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky and John Prendergast.
EMBARQ, FRONTIER SEEK FORBEARANCE FROM ARMIS REPORTING REQUIREMENTS: The FCC has asked for comments on Embarq’s petition requesting forbearance from enforcement of certain Automated Reporting Management Information System (ARMIS) reporting requirements. Specifically, Embarq seeks forbearance from the enforcement of Commission rules requiring submission of ARMIS Reports 43-05 (Service Quality Report) and 43-08 (Operating Data Report). On November 13, 2007, the Commission received a petition from Frontier and Citizens Communications Incumbent Local Exchange Telephone Carriers (Frontier et al.) also requesting forbearance from the enforcement of Commission rules requiring submission of the ARMIS Service Quality Report and Operating Data Report. Interested parties may file comments on the Embarq and/or the Frontier et al. petitions on or before February 1, 2008 and reply comments on or before March 17, 2008. All filings should refer to WC Docket No. 07-204. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
FCC SEEKS COMMENT ON NECA’s PROPOSED MODIFICATION OF AVERAGE SCHEDULE FORMULAS FOR INTERSTATE SETTLEMENTS: The FCC has asked for comments on the National Exchange Carrier Association’s (NECA’s) proposed modification of average schedule formulas for interstate settlements. NECA proposes to revise the formulas for average schedule interstate settlement disbursements in connection with the provision of interstate access services for the period beginning July 1, 2008, through June 30, 2009. Modifications to the average schedule formulas are based on a statistical sampling of the costs and demand of comparable cost companies. NECA indicates that the proposal includes stabilized account growth, and significant reductions in some access demand elements. NECA proposes to limit access minute volumes and line haul circuit counts that would be eligible for average schedule settlements to levels analyzed in its study. NECA estimates that, under the proposed changes to the formula, the majority of carriers would receive a small increase in settlements, ave raging 2.7 percent, given constant demand. NECA asserts that the effects of these formula changes on individual average schedule companies will vary depending on each company’s size and demand characteristics. Comments in this WC Docket No. 07-290 proceeding are due January 30, and replies are due February 11. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
CCI ENUM LLC ISSUES RFP TO BUILD ELECTONIC NUMBERING (ENUM) DATABASE TO ACCOMMODATE IP: The Country Code 1 (CC1) ENUM LLC has issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to the industry to build an ENUM (electronic number) database. The LLC is made up of AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. The LLC will allow service providers with access to numbering resources to access the database. The intent of the LLC is for this to be the master database for the entire United States. On the surface, it appears to resemble the manner in which NeuStar's Number Portability Administration Center (NPAC) was built. It lacks, however, the state and federal government law and regulation that both underlies and oversees LNP and the NPAC. This is an industry initiative outside the regulatory purview of the Federal and State governments. The ENUM database, a tool that will translate phone numbers to Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, allows carriers to drive more of the traditional voice traffic from the PSTN onto the internet. Some regulators and even carriers have expressed concern that this migration of traffic off the Internet will negatively affect those entities that rely heavily on the fees raised via traffic being routed across the public switched telephone network (PSTN), fees such as 911, access charges, and universal service. Other carriers believe that this is a natural progression of telecommunications away from the PSTN and toward an all IP network. In the RFP, the CC1 ENUM LLC states it is seeking “to build a commercial implementation of Provider ENUM that is consistent with the relevant open standards of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), upon which ENUM is based. The LLC will help to implement a Provider ENUM system for those service providers within the United States that choose to participate. It is intended that the LLC implementation of Provider ENUM will adhere to national and industry privacy requirements. For the purposes of responding to this RFP, the LLC would consider entering into a contract with the chosen vendor for an initial period of Four (4) years with the mutually agreed upon option of two (2) extensions of the contract for a period of two (2) years each based on the vendor meeting the defined performance requirements. The vendor must furnish the necessary personnel, material, equipment, services, and facilities (except as otherwise specified) to perform the requirements stated in this Request for Proposal (RFP). The exact duration of the contract will be negotiated with the chosen vendor.” Vendor responses to the RFP are due in February. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
JANUARY 22: FCC FORM 497, LOW INCOME QUARTERLY REPORT. This form, the Lifeline and Link -Up Worksheet, must be submitted to the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) by all eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) that request reimbursement for participating in the low-income program. The form must be submitted by the third Monday after the end of each quarter. This year, however, the third Monday is January 21, Martin Luther King Day, a federal holiday. Therefore, the due date is January 22. The form is available at: www.universalservice.org. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
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.
FEBRUARY 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 recent 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 (Form 499-A) that is due April 1. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens and Gerry Duffy.
FEBRUARY 29: COPYRIGHT STATEMENT OF ACCOUNT FORM FOR CABLE COMPANIES. This form, plus royalty payment for the second half of calendar year 2007, is due February 29. The form covers the period July 1 to December 31, 2007, and is due to be mailed directly by cable TV operators to the Library of Congress’ Copyright Office. If you do not receive the form, please contact Gerry Duffy.
MARCH 1: CPNI ANNUAL CERTIFICATION. Although the rules do not specify when carriers should modify and complete their “Annual Certification of CPNI Compliance” for 2007, we recommend that you do so as soon as possible. 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 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 forward the original to BloostonLaw for filing with the FCC by March 1. 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).
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.
APRIL 1: FCC FORM 499-A, TELECOMMUNICATIONS REPORTING WORKSHEET. This form must be filed by all contributors to the Universal Service Fund (USF) support 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 service contributions, but not to the TRS, NANPA, 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. 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 Commission. 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. BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast. APRIL 21: FCC FORM 497, LOW INCOME QUARTERLY REPORT. This form, the Lifeline and Link -Up Worksheet, must be submitted to the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) by all eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) that request reimbursement for participating in the low-income program. The form must be submitted by the third Monday after the end of each quarter. It is available at: www.universalservice.org. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.