BloostonLaw Telecom Update
Published by the Law Offices of Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP
[Portions reproduced here with the firm's permission.]
| Vol. 14, No. 29 || July 20, 2011 |
House Draft Bill Would
Auctions For TV Spectrum
House Republicans are circulating draft legislation that would authorize the FCC to conduct incentive auctions for broadcast TV spectrum, according to FierceWireless and Broadcasting & Cable magazine. The draft, prepared by the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, would authorize the FCC to conduct a single round of voluntary incentive auctions for TV broadcast spectrum. The measure is supported by the FCC and CTIA. While the auctions would be strictly voluntary, the draft legislation, titled the Spectrum Innovation Act of 2011, does not prohibit the FCC from forcing broadcasters to move from a UHF to a VHF channel. Broadcasters that decide to participate in the auction would have their identities protected until the auctions are concluded and the broadcasters vacate the spectrum.
The draft would also earmark an "unspecified amount" of the auction proceeds for "construction" of a public-safety broadband network. While the bill does not explicitly call for the auction of the D-Block, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the chairman of the subcommittee, has said the spectrum should be auctioned. The bill also would remove net neutrality rules from new spectrum auctions. The House draft bill differs from the Senate version introduced by Se"nate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.). The Senate bill also would authorize voluntary incentive auctions, but it would reallocate the D-Block directly to public safety and provide $12 billion for the buildout of a nationwide Long Term Evolution (LTE) network for first responders (BloostonLaw Telecom Update, June 15).
BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, John Prendergast, Richard Rubino, and Cary Mitchell.
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
- FCC’s E911 Order tightens accuracy requirements, proposes more changes.
- TWTC seeks direct IP-to-IP interconnection with ILECs for certain IP services.
- Barton, Terry, NARUC oppose tapping USF in deficit-reduction deal.
- FCC announces tentative agenda for August 9 open meeting.
- FCC makes NRUF/LNP data regarding AT&T/T-Mobile merger available to 4 states.
FCC’s E911 Order Tightens Accuracy Requirements, Proposes More Changes
The FCC has released the text of its Third Report and Order (R&O), Second Further Notice of Proposed Rule-making (FNPRM), and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding Enhanced 911 (E911) location accuracy requirements (BloostonLaw Telecom Update, July 13). The Third R&O makes the more stringent hand-set-based E911 location accuracy and reliability standards mandatory for new CMRS carriers (includ"ing AWS and 700 MHz licensees that provide inter"connected voice service). Also, new E911 testing and reporting obligations that the Commission plans to adopt could impose undue burdens on small businesses and rural service providers.
Third R&O: In the Third R&O, the FCC retains the existing handset-based and network-based location accuracy standards and the eight-year implementation period established in its September 2010 E911 Location Accuracy Second R&O, but provides for phasing out the network-based standard over time. This should come as no surprise because the wireless industry has been migrating away from using strictly network-based approaches to location accuracy. The FCC concluded that the network-based standard should sunset at an appropriate time after the end of the eight-year implementation period, at which time all carriers would be obligated to meet the handset-based location accuracy standard in the Com"mission’s current rules. The FCC said the handset-based standard is more stringent than the network-based standard. This stricter standard is consistent with the Com"mission’s chief objective of ensuring that Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) receive accurate and meaningful location information. The eight-year benchmark requires network-based carriers to achieve 85 percent A-GPS handset penetration by the end of the eight years. The FCC noted that 97% of 2G and 3G handsets ship"ping in 2010 were GPS-enabled.
The Third R&O also requires new Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) networks to comply with the handset-based location criteria, regardless of the location technology they actually use. In other words, providers deploying new CMRS networks are free to use network-based 911 location techniques, or to combine network- and handset-based techniques, but they must meet the accuracy criteria applicable to handset-based providers. In addition, the FCC will require wireless carriers to periodically test their outdoor E911 location accuracy results and to share the results with PSAPs, state 911 offices, and the Commission, subject to confidentiality safeguards. The FCC said its intent is to require covered CMRS providers that are launching new stand-alone networks to meet the handset-based location accuracy standard from the start, rather than to accelerate the eight-year implementation period for existing covered CMRS providers that opt to upgrade their networks during the implementation period.
Regarding periodic testing, the FCC acknowledged that further work is needed to develop approaches to testing criteria, procedures, and timeframes that are reasonable and cost-effective. The Commission also determined that basing testing criteria and procedures on the current OET Bulletin 71, developed 11 years ago, would be in"appropriate at this time. Rather, the FCC concluded that development of these issues should be referred to the newly re"chartered Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC). More specifically, the CSRIC should be tasked with making recommendations to the Commission within six months regarding cost-effective and specific approaches to testing requirements, methodologies, and implementation. The Commission said it will then subject these recommendations to further notice and comment prior to implementing specific testing requirements and procedures. CMRS carriers must be careful to watch for adoption of the new testing requirements.
Second FNPRM: In this Further Notice, the FCC pro"poses measures to improve 911 availability and location determination for users of interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. First, the Commission considers whether to apply its 911 rules to “outbound-only” interconnected VoIP services, i.e., services that support outbound calls to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) but not inbound voice calling from the PSTN. These services, which allow consumers to place IP-based outbound calls to any telephone number, have grown increasingly popular in recent years. The FCC asks whether such services are likely to generate consumer expectations that they will support 911 calling and consider whether to extend to outbound-only interconnected VoIP service providers the same 911 requirements that have applied to other interconnected VoIP service providers since 2005.
The FCC asks that if it were to extend 911 obligations to outbound-only interconnected VoIP service providers, should it also revise its definition of interconnected VoIP service? The FCC seeks comment on two potential technical modifications to the definition of interconnected VoIP service. First, it seeks comment on whether it should modify the second prong of the existing definition, which requires a broadband voice connection from the user’s location. Some interconnected VoIP service providers have asserted that VoIP services that are capable of functioning over a dial-up connection as well as a broadband connection fall outside this definition. Since these services provide virtually the same user experience, regardless of the fact that they are in dial-up mode, the FCC seeks comment on whether the second prong should specify an “Internet connection,” rather than a broadband connection, as the defining feature.
Second, the FCC seeks comment on whether it should modify the fourth prong of the existing definition to define connectivity in terms of the ability to connect calls to United States E.164 telephone numbers rather than the PSTN. Such a change could reflect the fact that inter"connected VoIP service providers are not limited to using the circuit-switched PSTN to connect or receive tele"phone calls. Indeed, the FCC said, as networks evolve away from circuit-switched technology, VoIP users are increasingly likely to place and receive telephone calls in which the end-to-end transmission is entirely over IP-based networks. By referencing E.164 telephone numbers and eliminating reference to the PSTN, the FCC said the definition of interconnected VoIP service might be technically more accurate and avoid potential technical obsolescence.
Thus, the FCC seeks comment on whether to extend 911 requirements to any service that (1) enables real-time, two-way voice communications; (2) requires an Internet connection from the user’s location; (3) requires Internet protocol-compatible customer premises equipment; and (4) permits users to terminate calls to all or substantially all United States E.164 telephone numbers. Would such a new definition accurately reflect current and evolving consumer expectations and the needs of PSAPs and first responders? In the companion NPRM, the FCC seeks comment on whether a new definition should be used for any regulatory purpose other than 911 and on issues related to the changing the definition for 911 purposes only.
The FCC also seeks comment on whether it should develop a framework for ensuring that all covered VoIP ser"vice providers can provide automatic location information (ALI) for VoIP 911 calls. Currently, interconnected VoIP customers must provide their location information manually by registering the physical location of their phones with their VoIP service providers. While there are bene"fits to this Registered Location approach, in light of the increasing popularity of VoIP calling, the enhanced mobility of VoIP devices, and the evolution of consumer expectations, the FCC said it will consider how it might continue working towards automatic location solutions for VoIP calls to 911. The Commission said it does not pro"pose specific automatic location accuracy requirements for VoIP at this time but instead seeks comment on whether it should adopt general governing principles for the development of automatic location identification solutions.
The FCC seeks comment on an array of issues associated with extending 911 calling and location accuracy requirements to broadband-based voice services other than interconnected and outbound-only interconnected VoIP services. The Commission requests comment on whether it should seek to support 911 location determination through leveraging of location technologies that are already being developed for commercial broadband applications. It also seeks comment on the possibility of developing operational benchmarks based on location accuracy performance to enhance consumer decision-making with respect to device capabilities. In addition, the FCC seeks comment on technological approaches to improve location accuracy for 911 communications originating from indoor environments.
NPRM: In this Notice, the FCC seeks comment on whether its proposal to amend the definition of interconnected VoIP service for 911 purposes has any impact on its interpretation of certain statutes that reference the FCC’s existing definition of interconnected VoIP service. More specifically, the FCC seeks comment on whether, if it decides to amend the definition of interconnected VoIP service in section 9.3 of its regulations, it should amend it for 911 purposes only. Would an amendment for 911 purposes only necessarily require the Commission to use the same definition when implementing the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) or the Truth in Caller ID Act? Would there be any necessary effect on the Commission’s other rules that cross-reference section 9.3 of the Commission’s regulations?
Comments in this GN Docket No. 11-117, PS Docket No. 07-114, and WC Docket No. 05-196 proceeding will be due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, and replies will be due 30 days thereafter.
BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, John Prendergast, and Cary Mitchell.
TWTC Seeks Direct IP-to-IP Interconnection with ILECs For Certain IP Services
In a move that has implications for access charges, universal service and interconnection, on June 30, 2011, tw telecom inc. (TWTC) filed a petition for a declaratory ruling that it has the right under section 251(c)(2) of the Communications Act to direct IP-to-IP interconnection with incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) for certain Internet Protocol (IP)-based services. In particular, TWTC seeks direct IP-to-IP interconnection from incumbent LECs for the transmission and routing of TWTC’s facilities-based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) ser"vices and for voice services that originate and terminate in Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) format but are converted to IP format for transport (IP-in-the-middle voice services). As part of its request, TWTC asks the Com"mission to clarify that TWTC’s facilities-based VoIP ser"vices are telecommunications services as well as tele"phone exchange services and/or exchange access.
More specifically, TWTC stated in its petition: As the Supreme Court recently reaffirmed in Talk America v. Michigan Bell (June 9), the ILECs' duty to interconnect their networks at any technically feasible point with competitors under Section 25 1(c)(2) of the Act "facilitate[s] market entry by competitors. In fact, the Court explained that, without this interconnection requirement, a new, competitive LEC could not compete with an incumbent [LEC]. The incumbent LECs' interconnection duty is therefore central to the competition framework established by the 1996 Act.”
TWTC seeks a two-part clarification that this framework will continue to apply during and after the transition from traditional TDM technology to IP technology as the means of providing telephone service.
First, TWTC asserts that the Commission should clarify that TWTC's facilities-based VoIP services are telecommunications services as well as telephone exchange ser"vices and/or exchange access, and accordingly, TWTC has the right under Section 251(c)(2) of the Act to establish direct IP-to-IP interconnection with incumbent LECs for the transmission and routing of TWTC's facilities-based VoIP services.
Second, TWTC asserts that the Commission should clarify that TWTC has the right under Section 251(c)(2) of the Act to establish direct IP-to-IP interconnection with ILECs for the transmission and routing of IP-in-the-middle voice services. TWTC states that the Commission has already held that voice traffic that originates and terminates in TDM but is transported in IP is a telecommunications service. “There is also no question that the TDM-based (i.e., circuit-switched) local exchange services transmit"ted as IP-in-the-middle voice traffic are telephone ex"change services or exchange access,” TWTC said. “Therefore, under Section 25 I(c)(2), TWTC is entitled to direct IP-to-IP interconnection with incumbent LECs for the transmission and routing of IP-in the-middle voice services. The Commission should clarify this fact.”
Comments in this WC Docket No. 11-119 proceeding are due August 15, and replies are due August 30.
BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
Reps. Barton, Terry, NARUC Oppose Tapping USF In Debt-Reduction Deal
Reps. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Lee Terry (R-Neb.) two longtime proponents of reforming the $8 billion Universal Service Fund (USF) have come out against a proposal from fellow House Republicans to tap the USF as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling and reduce the deficit, according to the National Journal. “You can't rob Peter to pay Paul. The burden of paying for USF is generally passed from carriers to customers and while I think the fund needs to be reduced, I am against using the money collected for anything other than its intended purpose,” Barton told the Journal. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) had proposed that Congress collect $20 billion to $25 billion from the USF and through spectrum auctions.
In the wake of reports about the plan to tap the USF, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) issued an opposing statement: “While we understand Congress is scrambling to resolve the deficit issue, our lawmakers should not tap into the Universal Service Fund as a last-minute solution. To divert these vital but limited funds from their intended use would be counterproductive and may undermine our national broadband goals.
The Universal Service Fund is funded by fees consumers pay through their telephone company to ensure affordable access to telecommunications service across America. The fund played a major role in the near ubiquitous level of telephone subscribership we enjoy. The fund is vital to ensuring all consumers, particularly those in rural areas, have access to life-saving emergency communications and contact with family, friends, and employment opportunities. The Universal Service Fund receives no federal monies and should not even be under consideration in this debate.” Rural telcos, which depend on the USF, should ask their congressional representatives to oppose diverting the Fund.
BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
FCC Announces Tentative Agenda For Aug. 9 Meeting
The FCC has announced that the following items will be on the tentative agenda for the next open meeting scheduled for Tuesday, August 9, 2011:
- Unleashing Spectrum for Wireless Backhaul to Promote Broadband Deployment Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: As part of its Broadband Acceleration Initiative, the Commission will consider a Report and Order, Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Memorandum Opinion and Or"der addressing several proposals to remove regulatory barriers to the full and effective use of certain spectrum bands for wireless backhaul to promote broadband deployment. The item also addresses other ways to make additional spectrum available for wireless backhaul.
- Foreign Ownership Review Streamlining NPRM: As part of the Commission's regulatory reform efforts, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to reduce regulatory burdens and streamline the review process for foreign ownership of common carrier radio licensees (e.g., wireless phone companies) and certain aeronautical radio licensees under section 310(b)(4) of the Communications Act, while ensuring the Commission continues to receive the information it needs to serve the public interest. This item does not address issues related to foreign ownership of broadcast licensees.
- Foreign Ownership Review Guidelines Clarification Order and Declaratory Ruling: As part of the Commission’s efforts to provide greater clarity regarding foreign ownership review standards, an Order and Declaratory Ruling regard"ing the International Bureau's Foreign Ownership Guidelines and the application of section 310(b)(3) of the Communications Act to certain foreign ownership of common carrier and aero"nautical licensees. This item does not address issues related to foreign ownership of broadcast licensees.
- Foreign Ownership Rulings Review Order: As part of the Commission’s efforts to provide greater clarity regarding foreign ownership re"view procedures, an Order on Reconsideration addressing two section 310(b)(4) foreign owner"ship rulings granted to Verizon Wireless in two proceedings approving its acquisitions of Rural Cellular Corporation (RCC) and Alltel Corporation (Alltel). This item does not address issues related to foreign ownership of broadcast licensees.
BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
FCC Makes NRUF/LNP Data Regarding AT&T/T-Mobile Merger Available To 4 States
In addition to the applications filed by AT&T and Deutsche Telekom to transfer control of T-Mobile’s li"censes to AT&T, the FCC, under a protective order, recently placed into the record various Numbering Re"source Utilization and Forecast (NRUF) reports filed by wireless telecommunications carriers and disaggregated, carrier-specific local number portability (LNP) data related to wireless telecommunications carriers. The FCC said that outside persons participating or intending to participate in WT Docket No. 11-65 who are not involved in competitive decision-making activities and who have signed the Acknowledgment of Confidentiality attached to the protective order may review and use the NRUF and LNP data “solely for the preparation and conduct of [WT Docket No. 11-65] before the Commission.”
The protective order further provides that if a state department or agency, among others, issues a subpoena for or orders the production of NRUF or LNP data or in"formation derived from NRUF and LNP data that a per"son has received pursuant to the protective order, the person receiving such an order must notify all affected parties and the Commission, such that “the Commission and each affected Wireless Telecommunications Carrier has a full opportunity to oppose such production prior to the production or disclosure of any NRUF/LNP Confidential Information.”
Pursuant to this provision, on June 28, 2011, Sprint Nextel notified the Commission that it had received civil investigation demands (CIDs) from various states seeking full, unredacted copies of all materials Sprint has filed (or will file) with the Commission in the proceeding, and that those materials contained NRUF/LNP Confidential Information. The Texas Office of the Attorney General has informed the Commission that CIDs that may require the production of NRUF/LNP Confidential Information also have been issued to AT&T, T-Mobile, and third parties other than Sprint, and that others may be issued in the future.
The Commission said it has recognized that disaggregated, carrier-specific forecast and utilization data should be treated as confidential and should be exempt from public disclosure. Nonetheless, when the public interest has so required, the Commission has provided access to that data to persons not involved in competitive decision-making subject to a protective order requiring that the data be used solely for the purpose of participating in the relevant proceeding before the Commission and that the data and information derived from the data not be made public. The Commission has also provided NRUF and LNP data to the United States Department of Justice for the Department’s use in antitrust investigations upon assurances from the Department that the material will be kept confidential and used for only legitimate enforcement purposes.
In connection with the CIDs to Sprint and other carriers, on July 11, 2011, the Offices of the Attorney General of four states, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington, sent letters to the Commission stating that they seek to review NRUF/LNP Confidential Information in connection with their investigations of AT&T’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA. The letters state that it is the Offices’ policy to keep this information confidential. They further state that the information will be used only for legitimate law enforcement purposes and that the Offices will not disclose the information unless it is required by law or is necessary to further a legitimate law enforcement purpose. The Offices of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania and Texas state that they will not dis"close the information without the consent of the affected parties or unless ordered by a court for cause; the Offices of the Attorney General of New York and Washington state that if it is necessary to disclose the confidential information in court filings, they will notify the affected parties as soon as is reasonably practical, seek to file such information under seal, and make reasonable efforts to limit disclosure of the information until the affected parties have had an opportunity to appear before the court and the court has ruled on any request by the affected parties.
The Offices of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania and Texas state that the information is exempt from disclosure under their state freedom of information laws, while the Offices of the Attorney General of New York and Washington state that if a request is made under their state freedom of information laws, they will assert all applicable exemptions and use their best efforts to provide concerned parties with notice prior to the release of any information. The Offices of the Attorney General of New York and Washington further state that if the confidential information becomes the subject of discovery in any litigation to which they are a party, they will use their best efforts to ensure that a protective order is entered, and will not voluntarily provide the information until concerned parties have had an opportunity to review and comment on the protective order and to apply to the court for further protection.
Sprint has agreed that it will not provide unredacted materials containing NRUF/LNP Confidential Information to these state Offices of the Attorney General earlier than July 25, 2011. The Commission is providing this notice to inform carriers of the requests of the state Offices of the Attorney General to allow carriers the opportunity to contact the state Offices of the Attorneys General or to take any other action they may deem appropriate if they have concerns or oppose disclosure. Comments or objections should not be filed with the Commission.
BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
FCC TAKES STEPS TO COMPLETE LPTV DIGITAL TRANSITION: The FCC has released a Second Report and Order to resolve the remaining issues regarding a timely and successful completion of the low power television (LPTV) digital transition. Although Congress established a hard deadline of June 12, 2009, for full power stations to cease analog operations and begin operating only in digital, the statutory deadline did not apply to low power television stations. The Second R&O now sets a hard deadline of September 1, 2015 for the termination of all analog LPTV operations. Most importantly for our firm’s 700 MHz band clients, the FCC established December 31, 2011 as the deadline for digital and analog LPTV to cease operations in the 700 MHz band (channels 52-69). This ruling is good news because it will eliminate the potential expense and delay of having to coordinate their wireless network deployments with secondary users. All LPTV stations that are currently operating in the 700 MHz band must submit displacement applications by September 1, 2011. In issuing its ruling, the FCC recognized the growing need to make 700 MHz spectrum available for advanced wireless broadband services. The FCC however declined a request by Verizon Wireless to adopt an earlier band clearing deadline since this would not provide the approximately 300 remaining low power television out-core licensees sufficient time from the conclusion of this proceeding to prepare and submit their displacement applications and for the staff to complete processing of those applications. BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, John Prendergast, Richard Rubino, and Cary Mitchell.
HOUSE BILL WOULD PLACE MORATORIUM ON NEW TAXES FOR WIRELESS SERVICES: The House Judiciary Committee has approved the Wireless Tax Fairness Act of 2011, which would put a five-year moratorium on new state and local taxes targeting wireless services but not other goods or services, according to several sources, including FierceWireless and the National Journal. The bill would only apply to new taxes and does not affect to those already in place. CTIA-the Wire-less Association has long fought for the bill, arguing that wireless services are unfairly taxed compared with other services. However, state and local governments have said that the bill would deprive them of revenue at a time when budgets are being cut because of the weak economy. The bill was introduced by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) earlier this spring, and will now go to the full House for a vote. Lawmakers also approved an amendment allowing a state or city to impose a new wireless tax if it is approved by the affected voters. A companion bill in the Senate, introduced by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), is still at the committee level. Similar legislation was introduced in 2008 and 2009, but the bills died in Congress. BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, John Prendergast, and Cary Mitchell.
NCTA ASKS FCC TO EASE CERTAIN RESTRICTIONS ON MERGERS & ACQUISTIONS BETWEEN CABLE COMPANIES, CLECs: The FCC has set comment dates for the National Cable and Telecommunications Association’s (NCTA’s) petition for declaratory ruling and conditional petition for forbearance. In both petitions, NCTA seeks to limit or prevent the application of section 652 of the Communications Act to mergers and acquisitions between cable operators and certain competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs). Specifically, NCTA asks the Commission to clarify that section 652 does not restrict transactions between cable operators and competitive LECs. If the Commission decides that section 652 does apply to such transactions, NCTA seeks forbearance from this restriction or, in the alternative, from the section 652(d)(6)(B) requirement that the relevant local franchising authorities approve of such waiver. Finally, if the Commission declines to grant the petitions, “NCTA re"quests that the Commission establish substantive standards and time limits to facilitate expeditious consideration of waiver requests, including standards that apply to LFAs.” Comments in this WC Docket No. 11-118 proceeding are due August 22, and replies are due September 21. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
FCC LAUNCHES WIRELESS INTERNET PILOT PROGRAM FOR CERTAIN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES: The FCC has launched a program for 20 schools and libraries in 14 states aimed at giving participating K-12 students off-premises connections to the Internet to in"crease access to digital textbooks, interactive learning tools, and other innovative wireless technologies. The new FCC wireless pilot project, “Learning On-The-Go,” will provide up to $9 million for the 20 schools and libraries selected for the 2011-2012 funding year. It builds on the FCC’s modernization of the E-rate program last fall, and follows recommendations of the National Broadband Plan. Previously, the E-rate program supported on-campus connectivity only. According to a 2010 E-rate survey, approximately 50 percent of the schools and libraries that responded indicated that they plan to implement or expand the use of digital textbooks and other wireless devices for digital learning. The 20 selected projects include initiatives to improve off-campus access to e-textbooks for students; connectivity for netbooks for students living in remote, isolated areas; and access to flexible, online education programs for home-bound stu"dents unable to attend classes. Under the “Learning On-The-Go” pilot program, mobile learning devices enable teachers and parents to tailor school curriculum and interactive learning to students’ skill sets. Digital textbooks never go out of date and students will have greater opportunities to access the latest educational curriculum available. With digital textbooks, you can effectively stretch out the binding of a book and slide new content in – slide in an assessment, or a simulation, or videos – to bring lessons to life. Digital tools also help parents, allow"ing them to better monitor and evaluate how their children are doing and where they need more help. New wireless devices and applications will also help teachers integrate school and home work assignments for students, creating greater efficiency in the exchange of in"formation. BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
FCC PROPOSES TO ALTER FCC/OSP-1 SYSTEM OF RECORDS: Under the Privacy Act, the FCC has proposed to alter one system of records, FCC/OSP-1, “Broadband Dead Zone Report and Consumer Broad"band Test.'' The FCC uses the records in this system to determine the access of U.S. residents to broadband—e.g., cable, digital subscriber line (DSL), optical fiber, mobile wireless, and other broadband services. The “Consumer Broadband Test” permits users to measure the quality of their fixed or mobile broadband connections. Individual street addresses, Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, mobile handset location, and unique handset identification numbers are not made public by the FCC, but aggregated or anonymized data from the database may be made public. Additionally, IP addresses, mobile handset location, and unique handset identification numbers may be shared with FCC software partners as part of the Consumer Broadband Test application. These partners may publish the IP address, mobile handset location, unique handset identification numbers, and broadband performance data, or otherwise make this information available to the public (but the IP address is not associated with a street address). These data may be used to inform implementation of the National Broadband Plan, the National Broadband Map, and other proceedings related to the provisioning of broadband services.
The altered system of records incorporates more details about the voluntary fixed and mobile consumer broad"band test. The FCC will also alter the categories of individuals; categories of records; the purposes for which the information is maintained; the retrievability procedures; Routine Use (5); and delete Routine Use (2); and make other edits and revisions as necessary to update the in"formation and to comply with the requirements of the Privacy Act. Any interested person may submit written comments concerning the alteration of this system of records by August 15. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which has oversight responsibility under the Privacy Act to review the system of records, and Congress may submit comments on or before August 23. The proposed altered system of records will become effective on August 23, unless the FCC receives comments that require a contrary determination. The Com"mission will publish a document in the Federal Register notifying the public if any changes are necessary. As required by the Privacy Act, the FCC is submitting reports on this proposed altered system to OMB and Congress. BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
MAN CHARGED WITH STEALING AT&T’s CONFI"DENTIAL 4G, LTE DOCUMENTS: A New Mexico man has been charged for allegedly stealing confidential business documents from AT&T Inc.’s servers—documents that were later posted on the Internet by a computer hacking group, according to Paul J. Fishman, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey. The documents include details for AT&T’s plans for its 4G data network and its Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile broadband network. Lance Moore, 21, of Las Cruces, N.M., was ar"rested July 19 at his residence by special agents of the FBI. Moore is charged in a Complaint with one count of accessing a protected computer without authorization. He is expected to make an initial appearance in Las Cruces federal court. Moore was a customer support contractor at Convergys Corp., a company that provides call center services to AT&T from its Las Cruces office. Moore was responsible for answering calls from AT&T’s mobile customers and troubleshooting their problems. According to the Complaint, on April 10, Moore exceeded his authorized access to AT&T’s servers, downloading, among other things, thousands of spreadsheets, Micro"soft Word documents, Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, applications; and image, PDF, and other files concerning AT&T’s plans for its 4G and LTE networks. That same day, Moore posted the illegally downloaded files on Fileape.com, a public file hosting site that promises user anonymity. Once uploaded to the site, the AT&T documents were available for public download. On June 25, the computer hacking group LulzSec publicized that they had obtained confidential AT&T documents and made them publicly available on the Internet. The documents were the ones Moore had previously uploaded to Fileape.com, the Complaint states. The U.S. Attorney said the count with which Moore is charged carries a maxi"mum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
COMMENT DATES SET FOR FCC REVIEW OF IN"TERNATIONAL TELECOM REPORTING REQUIREMENTS: The FCC has established a comment cycle for its Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) regarding its review of reporting requirements for providers of international telecommunications services (BloostonLaw Telecom Update, May 18). The Commission pro"poses to amend its reporting requirements for providers of international telecommunications services and trans"mission facilities in order to simplify the filing of the annual traffic and revenue report and the annual circuit-status report and modernize the information collected under those reports. The Commission also proposes to amend its rules to create a new annual services report designed to obtain basic information about providers of international telecommunications services and to update contact information. The Commission also proposes to amend its rules to clarify the confidential treatment of certain disaggregated information reported under the traffic and revenue report and the circuit-status report. This action is part of the Commission's comprehensive review of its international reporting requirements and is intended to remove unnecessary information collections and tailor its information collections to the current state of the international telecommunications market. Comments in this IB Docket No. 04-112 proceeding are due August 18, and replies are due September 2. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
FCC PROVIDES GUIDANCE FOR SEEKING WAIVER OF JAN. 1, 2013 NARROWBANDING DEADLINE: The FCC has released a Public Notice reiterating the current narrowbanding deadlines for private land mobile radio services in the 150-174 MHz and 421-512 MHz (VHF/UHF) bands to migrate to narrowband (12.5 kHz or narrower) technology. However, the FCC advises licensees that anticipate the need for additional time beyond January 1, 2013, to request a waiver and provides guidance on how to file such a waiver request. It also strongly encourages licensees that anticipate the need for additional time to file their waiver requests as soon as possible and preferably before the end of 2011. Information that should be included in the waiver request is:
- Steps already taken to plan for, initiate, and complete the transition to narrowband operations.
- System size and complexity.
- Whether system equipment is narrowband-capable or must be replaced or upgraded.
- Whether the licensee plans additional system upgrades or improvements in addition to convert"ing to narrowband operation.
- Funding sources, including whether the licensee’s budget requires government approval or a multi-year budget process.
- Whether the licensee’s narrowbanding schedule is affected by neighboring systems due to interoperability relationships or other interdependencies.
- Plans to minimize the negative impact of ex"tended wideband operations on co-channel and adjacent channel operations, including a description of the spectrum environment in the affected area.
- If the licensee plans to migrate to a non-VHF/UHF band (e.g., 700 MHz or 800 MHz), whether it will relinquish VHF/UHF spectrum once it has migrated and the amount of spectrum to be relinquished
Licensees should also provide a proposed timetable for completion of narrowbanding that includes the following elements:
- What steps in the process have been or will be taken prior to January 1, 2013
- Anticipated dates of commencement and completion of:
- Replacement or retuning of mobiles/portables
- Infrastructure replacement or retuning
Clients who believe they need a waiver of the 2013 narrowbanding deadline should contact us promptly. We do not expect such waivers will be routinely granted, so it will be necessary to build a record of justification for a waiver (with the understanding that a waiver request places the fate of your licenses in the hands of the FCC's discretion). BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, John Prendergast, Richard Rubino, Gene Maliszewskyj.
VERIZON, AT&T LTE PHONES NOT COMPATIBLE FOR ROAMING: Verizon Wireless has confirmed that its Long Term Evolution (LTE) phones will not be compatible with other LTE networks in the U.S. since its phones run on different frequencies, according to FierceBroadband Wireless and PC Mag. This confirms the fears of a number of our firm's 700 MHz band clients, who filed comments in the Spring of 2010 warning the FCC about the dangers of restrictive equipment banding arrangements and procurement practices of Verizon and AT&T. Al"though these nationwide carriers are both using the 700 MHz band for LTE, the two are deploying service on different 700 MHz channel blocks. Verizon acquired nationwide rights to the upper 700 MHz C Block spectrum in Auction 73, while AT&T focused its attention on acquiring lower 700 MHz B- and C-Block CMA licenses. Behind-the-scenes lobbying with international standards bodies resulted in the creation of "band classes" that uniquely benefit the large carriers, with the upper 700 MHz C-Block designated as Band 13 and the lower 700 MHz B- and C-Blocks designated as Band 17. Other 3GPP band classes include Band 12 for all lower 700 MHz paired channel blocks, A, B and C (thereby making Band 17 a subset of Band 12) and Band 14 for the upper 700 MHz public safety band. This hodgepodge of 700 MHz LTE band classes, not to mention LTE deployments in the 1700 MHz AWS band (MetroPCS) and 1500 MHz band (Lightsquared), will make it tricky to design and build LTE devices that are capable of operating on everybody's 4G network. Thus, to reliably roam from AT&T's LTE network to Verizon's, device makers will first have to build 700 MHz LTE gadgets that support band classes 13 and 17, and the carriers would also have to sign an LTE roaming agreement. Cellular and PCS band roaming (for 2G and 3G services) may not be seriously impacted, but customers who have purchased the most advanced 4G LTE devices will have a significant disincentive to switch"ing carriers if purchase of a new 4G phone (i.e., one that is compatible with the other carrier's network) is required.
This newsletter is not intended to provide legal advice. Those interested in more information should contact the firm.