BloostonLaw Telecom Update
Published by the Law Offices of Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP
[Portions reproduced here with the firm's permission.]
| Vol. 13, No. 5|| x February 3, 2010 |
Modified CPNI Annual Certification Due March 1
The FCC has modified the format for the annual CPNI certification, to clarify some of the information requested. Carriers should use the modified format and should update the reported information (as necessary), for their “Annual Certification of CPNI Compliance” for 2009. The certification must be filed with the FCC by March 1. BloostonLaw has modified the report format in response to the FCC’s clarifications for 2009, Clients can contact us for the revised report format.
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. We ask that any filings be forwarded to us by Friday, February 26. BloostonLaw is prepared to help our clients meet this requirement, 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.
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
- RUS awards $310 million in Recovery Act BIP grants.
- RUS provides additional resources to potential BIP applicants.
- FCC sets comment dates on FNPRM for testing Emergency Alert System.
- FCC seeks comment on data fields necessary to implement LNP.
- FCC seeks comment on NECA’s proposed 2010 modifications to average schedule formulas.
RUS Awards $310 Million In Recovery Act BIP Grants
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the selection of 14 Broadband Infrastructure projects that will receive $309,923,352 through funding made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). An additional $3,551,887 in private investment brings the total to $313,475,239. Altogether, Congress awarded the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) $2.5 billion in Broadband Initiative Program (BIP) funding to help bring broadband services to rural unserved and underserved communities.
"The Obama Administration will strengthen communities in rural areas through these broadband investments and provide employment opportunities, building a solid foundation for future economic growth," Vilsack said. "The awards for these broadband projects will support anchor institutions — such as libraries, public buildings and community centers — that are necessary for the viability of rural communities."
In rural Burleigh County, N.D., for example, BEK Communications Cooperative has been selected to receive a $2 million grant and $2 million loan with an additional $2 million in leveraged funds, Vilsack said. The company will expand the existing system to offer fiber-to-the-premises service to more than 540 homes and anchor institutions that are currently underserved. The existing system provides service to 53 percent of the population in the area, and among the current users, 22 percent derive household income from the Internet. This expansion is expected to stimulate economic growth by bringing on new users.
Funding of individual recipients is contingent upon their meeting the terms of the loan, grant or loan/grant agreement. Below is a complete list of recent Recovery Act Broadband award recipients by state and county:
Southwestern Alaska: United Utilities, $43,982,240 grant and $44,158,522 loan. The funding will provide middle mile connectivity to 65 communities.
Butler County: Butler Telephone Co., Inc., $3,892,920 grant. The funding will provide high speed DSL broadband service to remote, unserved households within its rural service territory. The system is being built so that it can be easily upgraded to accommodate future services.
San Joaquin, Tranquility, and Fresno Counties: Audeamus, $2,741,505 grant and $2,741,505 loan. The proposed project is a fiber-based broadband infrastructure for the unserved and underserved communities in this service area. A last-mile project, it will provide access to approximately 1,500 households, local businesses and anchor institutions in the communities.
Meriden and Archer Counties: C-M-L Telephone Cooperative Association, $1,519,225 grant and $1,519,225 loan, $1,525,315 in matching funds. Funding will provide services via a fiber optic network to rural communities with high speed internet exceeding 20 Mbps.
Bennett, Delmar, and Lowden Counties: F & B Communications, Inc., $1,609,162 grant and $1,628,588 loan. Funding will provide services via high speed fiber optic network with speeds exceeding 20Mbps. System will allow for expansion at a future date.
Spring brook County: LaMotte Telephone Company, $187,815 grant, and $187,815 loan. The funding will provide services from a 300-foot tower and WiMax installation for wireless broadband service in the surrounding area.
Kansas (1% of the network is to be built in Nebraska)
Western Kansas, Rural Telephone Service Co., Inc., $49,588,807 grant and $51,612,842 loan. Funding will provide service in an area 99.5 percent unserved/underserved and provide a rural infrastructure required for economic stability, education and healthcare. The company is a cooperative and RUS partner on 32 other projects. It leads a team of seven companies with this shovel-ready project.
Tennessee (1% of the network is to be built in Kentucky)
Northern Tennessee, North Central Telephone Cooperative, Inc., $24,715,709 grant and $24,964,000 loan. The funding will provide the necessary infrastructure to provide advanced voice, video, and data services that exceed 20Mbps to remote and rural communities in the service area.
Morehouse Parish, Northeast Louisiana Telephone Company, Inc., $4,359,000 grant and $8,124,600 loan. Funding will provide an active Ethernet system with symmetrical speeds of 20 Mbps. The system will be using buried fiber to the premise.
Ralls County, Ralls County Electric Cooperative, $9,548,908 grant and $9,548,909 loan. Funding for this project will provide a fiber optic network to residential and commercial members and the underserved safety and anchor agencies in the service area. This is a State of Missouri demonstration project and non-proprietary data will be shared.
Burleigh County; BEK Communications Cooperative, $1,986,473 grant and $2,016,571 loan; $2,016,572 in leveraged funds. The funding will provide fiber-to-the-premises broadband service to underserved homes and anchor institutions. This will aid business growth and support public safety in rural areas highly dependent on Internet business income.
Traill County; Halstad Telephone Company, $2,027,600 grant and $2,027,600 loan; $10,000 in leveraged funds. The funding will provide fiber-to-the premises broadband service to unserved homes and businesses in Traill County.
Marion County, Gervais Telephone Company, $314,430 grant and $314,430 loan. This project extends Gervais Telephone Company's existing fiber network by building out from the nearest fiber splice point through the funded service area. This project will provide broadband connectivity to residential and business end users, as well as to four anchor institutions.
Alleghany County, NTELOS Telephone Inc., $8,062,088 grant and $8,062,088 loan. The funds will provide broadband infrastructure to unserved and underserved homes, businesses and critical community institutions in this rural county. A fiber-based project, it will enable work-from-home jobs and foster economic development, and improve health, education and public safety services to the county citizens.
BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, John Prendergast, and Mary Sisak.
RUS Provides Additional Resources To Potential BIP Applicants
As the filing window for Round 2 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s (ARRA) broadband access and adoption programs approaches its February 16, 2010 opening, the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) has released several documents further detailing the agency’s expectations and requirements for potential applicants.
On Monday, February 1, 2010, RUS updated its existing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document to address several additional issues pertaining to various aspects of the application, review, and award granting process applicable its Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP). In addition to an updated FAQ, the agency also released a comprehensive BIP Application Guide and links to the templates which will be used during the wholly-online application process. These materials are being made available to assist applicants in assembling application materials prior to the opening of the application window. Given the arduous task preparing an application amounted to during Round 1, any extra time made available for preparation is invaluable and should be capitalized upon.
RUS’ BIP Application Guide and accompanying templates provide some useful information about the specific questions applicants will be required to answer by the close of the application filing window on March 15, 2010. Since RUS has essentially eliminated the second phase of application review (the “due diligence” phase from Round 1), the up-front burden is even higher this year. Of particular importance is the Environmental Questionnaire, which requires some supporting documentation that may prove time-consuming to obtain.
Clients interested in submitting an application for BIP, or for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), should contact the firm as soon as possible in order to evaluate proposals and prepare a plan for gathering and assembling the necessary materials. Even clients who applied in Round 1 and will be re-submitting in Round 2 should begin preparing now, as the Round 2 Notices of Funds Availability for BIP and BTOP made significant changes to the policy goals, eligibility, and scoring criteria for these programs.
BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, John Prendergast, and Mary Sisak.
FCC SETS COMMENT DATES FOR FNPRM ON TESTING EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM: The FCC has established a comment cycle for its Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, proposing to provide for national testing of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and collection of data from such tests. The EAS is a national alert and warning system that exists primarily to enable the President of the United States to issue warnings to the American public during emergencies. To date, however, neither the EAS nor its predecessor national alerting systems have been used to deliver a national Presidential alert. Moreover, while the Part 11 rules provide for periodic testing of EAS at the state and local level, no systematic national test of the EAS has ever been conducted to determine whether the system would in fact function as required should the President issue a national alert, and, in their current form, the EAS rules do not mandate any such test.
In the FCC Chairman’s recent 30-Day Review on FCC Preparedness for Major Public Emergencies, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau noted that concerns had been raised regarding the frequency and scope of EAS testing. The Bureau recommended that the three Federal partners responsible for EAS – the Commission, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Weather Service (NWS), review the testing regime to see where improvement could be made.
Since the 30-Day Review was conducted, the Commission, FEMA, and NWS, along with the Executive Office of the President (EOP), have initiated discussions regarding testing of the EAS at the national level. The FCC and its Federal partners agreed that it is vital that the EAS work as designed and shared concerns that existing testing may be insufficient to ensure its effective operation. In light of this, the Commission, FEMA, NWS and EOP have begun planning for a national EAS test, with subsequent tests to occur thereafter. To facilitate this test program, in this Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC proposes to amend its EAS rules to specifically provide for national EAS testing and data collection. The FCC seeks comment on all issues, including whether its proposed rule would effectively ensure accurate EAS testing at the national level. Comments in this EB Docket No. 04-296 proceeding are due March 1, and replies are due March 30. BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, John Prendergast, and Richard Rubino.
FCC SEEKS COMMENT ON DATA FIELDS NECESSARY TO IMPLEMENT LNP: The FCC seeks comment on two proposals regarding what data fields are necessary in order to complete simple wireline-to-wireline and intermodal ports within the one business day porting interval mandated by the Commission. In the Commission's May 13, 2009, Porting Interval Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM), it sought comment on whether different or additional information fields are necessary for completing simple ports. On November 2, 2009, the North American Numbering Council (NANC) Local Number Portability (LNP) Administration Working Group submitted a non-consensus recommendation for Standard Local Service Request Data Fields, which accompanied the NANC's Recommended Plan for Implementation of FCC Order 09-41. The recommendation proposes a set of 14 standard fields required to complete simple ports within the one business day porting interval for simple wireline-to-wireline and intermodal ports mandated by the Commission in the Porting Interval Order and FNPRM. On November 19, 2009, the National Cable & Telecommunication Association (NCTA), Cox Communications, and Comcast Corporation submitted an alternative proposal of eight standard fields to complete simple ports within the one business day porting interval. The FCC seeks comment on these proposals. Specifically, the FCC seeks comment on what fields are necessary in order to complete simple ports--wireline-to-wireline and intermodal—within the one business day interval. Entities subject to the LNP obligations may not demand information beyond what is required to validate a port request and accomplish a port. Thus, commenters should focus on the minimum amount of information needed to complete a port in considering what number of fields is appropriate. The Commission concluded that nine months after the NANC submits its recommendation is sufficient time for parties to implement changes needed to implement one business day porting for simple wireline-to-wireline and intermodal port requests. Thus, to expedite the Commission's further consideration of the recommendations and facilitate implementation within this time frame, interested parties may file comments in this WC Docket No. 07-244 proceeding on or before February 16, 2010, and reply comments on or before February 22, 2010. Written comments on the Paperwork Reduction Act proposed information collection requirements must be submitted by the public, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and other interested parties on or before April 2, 2010. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
FCC SEEKS COMMENT ON NECA’s PROPOSED 2010 MODIFICATION OF AVERAGE SCHEDULE FORMULAS: On December 23, 2009, the National Exchange Carrier Association, Inc. (NECA) filed with the FCC its 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, 2010, through June 30, 2011. 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 factors driving this proposal include increased balances in some sampled accounts, and significant reductions in some access demand elements. NECA also proposes to change the way special access retention ratios are calculated for study areas in which digital subscriber line (DSL) is provided outside of NECA’s tariff and to employ a new method to develop the Carrier Access Billing System (CABS) formula. NECA proposes to continue to limit access minute volumes and line haul circuit counts eligible for average schedule settlements. NECA estimates that under the proposed formula changes the majority of carriers would receive an increase in settlements, averaging 6.75 percent, given constant demand. The effects of these formula changes on individual average schedule companies will vary depending on each company’s size and demand characteristics. Interested parties may file comments on NECA’s proposed modifications on or before February 16, 2010 and reply comments on or before February 26, 2010. Filings in this proceeding should be captioned “National Exchange Carrier Association, Inc.’s Proposed 2010 Modification of Average Schedule Formulas” and filed in WC Docket No. 09-221. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
SINC ACT WOULD AUTHORIZE FCC TO ISSUE RULES AGAINST INTERNET CENSORSHIP: Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) has introduced HR 4504, the Standards for Internet Non-Censorship Act or SINC Act of 2010, which is clearly a response to Google’s recent trouble with China over search engines. The bill would authorize the FCC to issue regulations against the censorship of Internet search results and authorize the Secretary of State to enter into agreements with appropriate representatives of free countries to adopt minimum standards to prevent censorship of nonviolent political speech on the Internet as a condition for connection to the Internet. The bill notes that “One of the most egregious violations of Internet freedom has been the enforcement of arbitrary and politically motivated censorship of search engines by repressive regimes that often force search providers to censor search results domestically and globally as a condition of doing business.” It finds that “access to United States Web sites by search engines around the world provides billions of dollars of market value to the owners of these search engines,” and that “search engines under the control of repressive regimes receive the economic benefit of accessing United States Web sites and use this access to provide an incomplete and distorted view of the United States and the world.” As a result, “repressive control and censorship of the Internet will continue to be a significant international issue that requires decisive action from the United States and other free countries.” The bill states that 1) the President should promptly establish interim minimum standards of non-censorship for Internet search providers and create programs to restrict access to domestic online information by search providers determined to be censoring nonviolent political speech; (2) any long-term solution to the problem of the censorship of nonviolent political speech on the Internet must include minimum standards of non-censorship set by a coalition of free countries; and (3) the President should begin negotiations with free countries to adopt minimum standards for non-censorship of nonviolent political speech as a condition for access to the Internet. Additionally, the Commission may commence a proceeding to adopt regulations to restrict repressive Internet search providers from accessing domestic online information. And if the FCC adopts such regulations, it shall develop, operate, and maintain a public Web site that lists such repressive Internet search providers and the reasons for finding that such Internet search providers were repressive. Finally, the FCC may enforce the regulations using any existing enforcement authority to prevent Internet search providers and any other person or entity from colluding to evade such regulations. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
FCC BUDGET OF $352.5 MILLION PROPOSED FOR FISCAL YEAR 2011: The President has submitted a budget to Congress that proposes fiscal year 2011 funding for the FCC of $352.5 million. The requested FY 2011 funding level would include monies to implement the National Broadband Plan; continue to manage the nation’s spectrum use; overhaul the Commission’s data systems and processes; continue to improve the FCC’s operations using improved technology; support the Commission’s public safety and cyber-security role; strengthen the Commission’s consumer information programs; and enhance the FCC’s role as a strong advocate for U.S. interests internationally. “With the President’s proposed budget, the FCC can continue its important work of supporting and enhancing the nation’s economic growth by promoting innovation and investment throughout the telecommunications and information technology industries,” said Steven VanRoekel, Managing Director of the FCC. The FY 2011 budget proposal includes these initiatives: (1) Continuing the work of the National Broadband Plan and broadband map; (2) Implementation of a spectrum inventory initiative and emergency response interoperability center; (3) State-of-the-art consumer information programs, seizing the opportunities provided by new media and advanced information technology; (4) New investment in the people and technology necessary to overhaul the agency’s antiquated systems for data collection, processing, analysis, and dissemination; (5) New expertise and new tools required to ensure that the FCC is able to be a model of excellence, openness, and transparency domestically and internationally. The request would also provide funds to cover mandatory increases in salaries and benefits and inflationary increases for contractual services. BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.