BloostonLaw Telecom Update
Published by the Law Offices of Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP
[Reproduced here with the firm's permission.]
| Vol. 14, No. 35|| September 28, 2011 |
Feb. 13 Trial Date Set For DoJ Suit Against Proposed AT&T/T-Mobile Merger
U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle has set February 13, 2012, as the trial date for the Department of Justice’s (DoJ’s) antitrust lawsuit challenging the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger. The trial is expected to last six weeks. DoJ sued AT&T and T-Mobile’s parent, Deutsche Telekom, August 31 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, arguing that the combination of AT&T and T-Mobile would be anticompetitive (BloostonLaw Telecom Update, November 7). Huvelle has pressed lawyers for both sides to limit the number of witnesses and the amount of evidence they’ll present, noting that each side proposed interviewing 30 potential witnesses before trial.
Separate suits opposing the merger have been filed by Sprint, the third-biggest U.S. wireless operator, and Ridgeland, Mississippi-based Cellular South Inc., the ninth-largest by customers. Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) and 99 fellow House Republicans have signed a letter urging the Obama administration to resolve the DoJ’s lawsuit and let the deal go through. The Olson-led letter is one of at least three to the Obama administration from Congress since early September. Three Republicans including Representative Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, in a Sept. 8 letter asked for a briefing from the DoJ and the FCC, which is conducting a separate review. DoJ rejected the request for a briefing.
In a Sept. 15 letter, 15 Democrats led by Representative Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), said the Justice Department should agree to a settlement of the lawsuit “that ensures robust competition” while preserving the deal’s benefits (BloostonLaw Telecom Update, September 21).
BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
- FCC’s Net Neutrality rules published in Fed. Register
- FCC’s NG911 NPRM explores texting, prioritizing calls.
- E911 Rule Changes Effective Oct. 28
- FCC white paper outlines vision for deploying DACA.
- USAC devises proposal for disbursing low-income support to ETCs.
- FCC establishes Rural Call Completion Task Force.
FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules Published In Fed. Register
The FCC has published its “Open Internet” or “Network Neutrality” rules in the Federal Register. As noted last week, the rules become effective on November 20 (BloostonLaw Telecom Update, September 21). The Commission’s Report and Order (R&O) establishes protections for broadband service to preserve and reinforce Internet freedom and openness. The Commission adopted three basic protections that are grounded in broadly accepted Internet norms, as well as the FCC’s own prior decisions.
First, transparency: fixed
and mobile broadband providers must disclose
the network management practices, performance
characteristics, and commercial terms
of their broadband services.
Second, no blocking: fixed
broadband providers may not block lawful
content, applications, services, or non-harmful
devices; mobile broadband providers may
not block lawful Web sites, or block
applications that compete with their
voice or video telephony services.
Third, no unreasonable discrimination: fixed
broadband providers may not unreasonably
discriminate in transmitting lawful network
Commission adopted a more limited set
of rules for mobile broadband,
requiring compliance with the transparency rule and a basic version of the no-blocking rule.
The Open Internet Order also covers key definitions, such as “reasonable network management”, which is likewise broad and which the Commission intends to further develop on a case-by-case basis based upon consumer complaints.
While the rules are intentionally non-specific in order to provide some flexibility in implementing them for providers, the Commission’s order does provide some important clarification on the transparency and unreasonable discrimination requirements.
The Commission’s transparency requirements are geared to provide information “sufficient for consumers to make informed choices regarding use of such services …” While not an exhaustive list, the Commission specified that these measures will satisfy the transparency requirement for the time being:
Network Practices, such as a description of their network management practices, including congestion, application, and device management policies, as well as security policies. Network management disclosures must include information on the purpose and anticipated effect of any congestion management techniques, such as usage limits; explanations of any application- or device-specific management techniques, such as blocking; and a description of the practices employed to ensure customer and network security (to the extent this information does not assist in the circumvention of said security measures).
Performance characteristics, such as a general description of their broadband service tiers, including the average upload and download speeds during “busy hours” (weeknights, 7pm – 11pm); average round-trip latency during busy hours; and a general description of the suitability of each service tier to certain real-time applications, such as streaming video. Providers may also use the metrics used in the Commission’s performance measurement project. Wireless providers may disclose the results of their own or third-party testing.
Redress options for user and edge provider complaints and questions.
Disclosures must be posted on providers’ websites and provided at the point of sale, but need not be included as bill inserts or other paper documents sent to existing customers. Otherwise, providers have flexibility in determining how and what to disclose. For example, the Commission clarified that providers can comply with the point-of-sale requirement by directing prospective customers at the point-of-sale, either orally or prominently in writing, to a web address at which the required disclosures are made.
Regarding its unreasonable discrimination requirements, the Commission provided a set of factors which, while not conclusive, would help differentiate reasonable from unreasonable discrimination:
Transparency: Differential treatment is more likely to be reasonable the more transparent to the end user that treatment is.
End-User Control: The more choice an end user has with regard to broadband offerings based on assured data rates and reliability, or with regard to quality-of-service enhancements for traffic of their own choosing, the more likely the practice will be considered reasonable.
Use-Agnostic Discrimination: Differential treatment of traffic that does not discriminate among specific uses of the network is more likely to be reasonable.
Standard Practices: The more a differential treatment conforms with best practices and technical standards adopted by open, broadly representative, and independent Internet engineering, governance initiatives, or standards-setting organizations, the more likely it is to be considered reasonable.
Early opposition to the Open Internet Order has been long delayed as premature in the eyes of the courts. Now that the rules have been published in the Federal Register, we expect these challenges to be refiled.
BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
FCC’s NG911 NPRM Explores Texting, Prioritizing Calls
At last week’s open meeting, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to examine ways to modernize the current voice-based 911 system to a Next Generation 911 (NG911) system that will enable the public to send texts, photos, videos, and other data to 911 call centers or Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs). The NPRM struggles somewhat with certain fundamental questions, such as what role the FCC should play in creating the NG911 system; how will PSAPs be protected from getting too much information; and what standards should govern NG911 devices.
While the NPRM has been issued based on a round of public comments in response to a Notice of Inquiry, the FCC decided it did not yet have enough information to draft proposed rules. Therefore, it is likely there will be additional NPRMs in this proceeding.
As a result of the East Coast earthquake on August 23, 2011, the FCC said, it is also seeking comment on whether and how to prioritize calls to 911 over other calls during emergencies, which are usually the moments when wireless networks experience the most congestion and calls fail to go through.
The Commission said it recognized the need to ensure the availability of reliable voice-based 911 service, while moving forward with a NG911 system that adds text and other information capabilities. Enabling text, photos, video and data transmissions to PSAPs allows consumers to communicate with 911 in the same way they communicate with others on a daily basis, the FCC said. It added that the capability also enhances public safety by allowing consumers to text 911 when a voice call is difficult or dangerous. NG911 is also particularly beneficial to people with disabilities.
The FCC said the text, photo, video, and data capabilities of NG911 will also provide 911 call centers and first responders with enhanced information and improved technological tools that can be synthesized with existing databases. This allows 911 call centers to dispatch the appropriate emergency response more quickly, a difference that can save lives during emergencies.
The NPRM examines short-term and long-term options for enabling consumers to send texts to 911, including the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches. The Commission is also seeking comment on long-term development of multimedia NG911 technology that would support delivery of photos, videos, and data to 911, in addition to texting. The Commission will consider the appropriate role for the agency in facilitating — and, if necessary, accelerating — the rollout of these capabilities, and encouraging the parallel development of NG911 capabilities in 911 call centers. The Commission also noted that the transition to NG911 is not likely to occur uniformly across the country and asked for comment on how best to educate the public about the availability, capabilities, and limitations of NG911 as it is deployed.
The NPRM provides a procedural history, together with technical background, regarding three broad classes of text-capable communications, namely Short Message Service (SMS), Internet protocol (IP)-based messaging, and Real-Time Text (RTT), comparing their characteristics, strengths, and limitations in supporting emergency communications.
The NPRM then examines potential short-term methods for sending text messages to 911. The FCC said it did this because of the widespread availability and increasing use of text in communications systems and because many of the emerging IP-based mechanisms for delivering text also have the capability, with relatively minor technical adjustment, to support delivery of photos, videos, and other data as well. The FCC seeks comment on what role the Commission should play to facilitate — and, if necessary, accelerate — the implementation of text-to-911 capabilities by providers in the short term.
Additionally, the NPRM explores the long-term implementation of NG911, with particular focus on IP-based alternatives for delivering text, photos, videos, and other data to 911 that would leverage the increasing percentage of mobile devices that have the ability to access the Internet. The FCC seeks comment on the potential for developing downloadable smartphone applications that both consumers and IP-capable PSAPs could acquire to support capabilities for an early rollout of text and multimedia functionality. The FCC noted that such applications could also provide early access to key NG911 capabilities for mobile callers, especially those persons with hearing and speech disabilities.
The Commission said it explored the full range of options for the agency, including both non-regulatory and regulatory approaches, and it seeks to adopt the least burdensome approach that would achieve the desired result. The FCC also recognized that it must carefully assess the costs and benefits of different regulatory options to determine the Commission’s proper role.
Also at last week’s open meeting, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau presented a cost study on NG911 network connectivity costs, titled, A Basis for Public Funding Essential to Bringing a Nationwide Next Generation 911 Network to America’s Communications Users and First Responders.
The Bureau staff analysis determined that NG911, because of its ability to leverage commercial off-the-shelf technology, has the potential to be more cost-effective to operate and upgrade than the legacy 911 system. The study offers two models for NG911 deployment: a baseline model and a cost-effective model that assumes cost savings from a reduction in the total number of 911 call centers nationwide and a greater percentage of call centers sharing NG911 infrastructure as opposed to operating their own dedicated systems.
Based on these assumptions, the baseline model concludes that the network connectivity and call routing costs to transition to NG911 will be approximately $2.68 billion over 10 years. In the cost-effective model, the transition costs are approximately $1.44 billion. However, it should be noted that network connectivity and call routing costs are only part of the costs involved.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski noted that the Commission is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), local public safety authorities, and the wireless industry to launch, on an accelerated basis, the Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN). In the event of an emergency, PLAN allows government officials to send text-like, targeted alerts to all enabled mobile devices in a geographic area, Genachowski said. In just a few months, he added, PLAN will go live in New York City, and it will launch nationwide in April 2012.
Commissioner Michael Copps said: “We’re not trying to identify a silver bullet here. Texting is neither a total response nor a perfect tool. The record so far points out that, unlike phone calls, texts can take precious more time to get to recipients. And, importantly, they lack the automatic location information that accompanies calls to 911 and that is so important is responding to emergencies. ”
Commissioner Robert McDowell said that “we must develop a strong record illustrating the costs and technical feasibility of implementing this technology. Accordingly, I approve of this prudent approach to develop the record further before drafting proposed rules.”
Comments in this PS Docket Nos. 10-255 and 11-153 proceeding will be due 60 days after publication of the item in the Federal Register, and replies will be due 30 days thereafter.
BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, John Prendergast, Richard Rubino, Cary Mitchell, and Bob Jackson.
Modified E911 Rules for Wireless and VoIP Providers Become Effective Nov. 28
The FCC’s recent order modifying the E911 Rules for Wireless and VoIP providers (see Blooston Telecom Update July 20, 2011) were published in the September 28 Federal Register, and will become effective November 28.
The FCC retained its current handset- and network-based location-accuracy regime and eight-year implementation period first established in an order last year, which required accuracy to be measured at the county level. After an eight-year period ends in 2019, all carriers will have to meet the handset-based location-accuracy standard. The FCC will decide the sunset date at a later time. New commercial mobile radio service networks will have to meet the more accurate handset-based standards created by the new E911 rules right away.
The order also requires wireless carriers to periodically test their E911 location accuracy results and share the results with Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs), state 911 offices, and the FCC, subject to confidentiality protections. BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, Cary Mitchell.
FCC White Paper Outlines Vision For Deploying DACA
The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, at last week’s open meeting, released a comprehensive white paper outlining a vision for how “deployable aerial communications architecture” (DACA) can be used to provide communications following a catastrophic event when the terrestrial communications infrastructure is severely damaged or unavailable. The white paper includes recommendations to the Commission for next steps on how to incorporate this technology into the Nation's communications infrastructure.
Titled The Role of Deployable Aerial Communications Architecture in Emergency Communications and Recommended Next Steps, the paper offers an analysis of how DACA could fit into the restoration of communications services in the early hours immediately after a catastrophic event. DACA is deployable 12 to 18 hours after a catastrophic event to restore critical communications, including broadband, temporarily for a period of 72 hours or more. This capability would be useful in situations where the power grid may be inoperable for several days, depleting backup power supplies and resulting in an almost complete failure of landline, cellular, public safety radio, broadcast, and cable transmissions, as well as Wi-Fi and Internet services.
Based on its conclusions in the white paper, the Bureau recommended several steps for further Commission action:
- Open an inquiry by the end of the year to gather data and address issues such as the role of DA-CA solutions during catastrophic disasters, radio interference, spectrum coordination, authorization requirements, costs, cost-effectiveness, equipment standards, and operational procedures.
- Host a workshop on DACA solutions by the end of 2011.
- Share findings with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Aviation Administration, and other Federal partners to initiate discussions regarding pilot programs and implementation.
- Working with the Department of State and other appropriate Federal agencies, explore any international implications of these issues.
BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, John Prendergast, Richard Rubino, Cary Mitchell, and Bob Jackson.
USAC Devises Proposal For Disbursing USF Low Income Support To ETCs
The FCC seeks comment on a proposal for disbursing Universal Service Fund (USF) low income support to eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) based upon claims for reimbursement of actual support payments made, instead of projected claims for support. Payment based on actual support payments could replace the current administrative process, under which the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) reimburses ETCs for low income support each month based on USAC’s projection of payments and on a “true-up” calculated using an ETC's actual support payments.
ETCs are reimbursed for providing Lifeline and Link Up to qualifying low-income consumers. Carriers providing toll-limitation services (TLS) for qualifying low-income subscribers are compensated from universal service mechanisms for the incremental cost of providing TLS. ETCs use FCC Form 497 to request reimbursement for participating in the Lifeline, Link Up and TLS programs.
The majority of ETCs file support claims on FCC Form 497 on a monthly basis; however, some ETCs file support claims quarterly. USAC disburses low income support on the last business day of each month. The disbursements may be based upon a projection for the prior month’s support and a true-up for support claims for all FCC Forms 497 filed with USAC during the prior month. USAC processes forms received by the last day of each month to determine the disbursements that go out at the end of the following month.
If a carrier does not file an FCC Form 497 during a month, the carrier receives a low income program disbursement equal to the USAC-generated projection for that company. This process allows ETCs to file quarterly, but still receive a monthly disbursement. Projections are trued-up as soon as the carrier files an actual support claim on FCC Form 497. USAC stops monthly support disbursements to any company that has not filed its actual support claims on FCC Form 497 for six months. At that point, USAC notifies the company that FCC Form 497 must be filed before additional support will be provided. If the company fails to file, USAC recovers the support paid for the six month period.
To promote greater accuracy in low income program payment-processing, the Commission’s Office of the Managing Director (OMD) recently directed USAC to propose an administrative process for disbursing low income support to ETCs based on verified claims for reimbursement. The FCC seeks comment on the following USAC proposal:
Filing Deadline. USAC proposes to establish a monthly due date by which ETCs must submit their FCC Form 497 in order to receive a payment at the end of the following month. Carriers that do not file FCC Form 497 by the monthly deadline in a given month would not receive a payment in the following month. USAC would process an FCC Form 497 received after the monthly deadline during the following month, and would make a disbursement based on that support claim in the subsequent month.
Quarterly Filing. Under USAC’s proposal, carriers would be allowed to continue to file quarterly, but those that do so would no longer be paid monthly. Instead, for the month following the month the forms are filed, ETCs filing on a quarterly basis would receive one payment for all three months filed.
Deadline for New Support and Filing Revisions. Currently, USAC maintains an administrative window of 15 months for filing original or revised support claims. Specifically, after the end of each calendar year (closed calendar year), carriers have fifteen months to file original claims or to revise support claims for the closed calendar year. After the 15-month window, ETCs may not file revised or original support claims for any portion of the closed calendar year. Under USAC’s proposed plan, new support claims and upward revisions would only be permitted to be filed within an administrative window of six months.
True-Up before Transition to New Disbursement Process. Most ETCs currently receive payments based on projections. Under USAC’s plan, in order to transition to paying on actual support claims, USAC would true-up all payments against projections for each ETC. ETCs currently paid based on projections will likely receive little or no support for the month in which the program transitions to payments against actual claims.
Payment of Negative Balance as a Result of Transition True-Up. A carrier may incur a negative disbursement as a result of the true-up process during the transition month. Under USAC’s proposed plan, in the event the negative amount exceeds the carrier’s next monthly payment, USAC would invoice the carrier for the full amount of the negative balance.
Transition Date and Early Transition Option. If adopted, the new disbursement process would contain a transition date by which all carriers would receive support based on claims for actual, rather than projected, support. The FCC seeks comment on what date would be appropriate for the transition, including details to support any dates proposed. Additionally, under USAC’s proposal, ETCs could elect to transition to the new disbursement process prior to the transition deadline. For example, a carrier that claims low income program support in multiple study areas may wish to transition its study areas at different times in order to phase-in payment on actual support claims, rather than have all of its study areas transition at the same time.
Implementation and Outreach. OMD requested that USAC’s proposal include an implementation and out-reach component which USAC includes in its proposal.
Comments in this WC Docket Nos. 11-42 and 03-109 proceeding will be due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, and replies will be due 15 days thereafter.
BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
FCC GRANTS CONDITIONAL FORBEARANCE FROM RULE THAT ETCs MUST PROVIDE LIFELINE OVER OWN FACILITIES: The FCC has conditionally granted petitions for forbearance regarding requirement that eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) receiving Life-Line support provide services over their own facilities. Specifically, the FCC (1) granted the petitions filed by PlatinumTel Communications, ReCellular, operating under the brand name MCA Wireless, , and (2) granted in part and deny in part a petition for forbearance filed by CAL Communications. PlatinumTel, ReCellular, and CAL Communications are non-facilities based, wireless resellers seeking forbearance from the requirement that carriers designated as ETCs for purposes of federal universal service support provide services, at least in part, over their own facilities. Consistent with Commission precedent, the FCC denied CAL Communications’ request to extend forbearance to Link Up. As a result of forbearance, these carriers may seek ETC designation to offer discounted service to qualified low-income consumers through the universal service Lifeline program. The FCC said this forbearance does not apply to Link Up or any federal high cost universal service support. To promote accountability and guard against waste, fraud and abuse in the Universal Service Fund (USF), the FCC conditioned forbearance on compliance with conditions imposed on other Lifeline-only ETCs. If PlatinumTel, CAL Communications, and ReCellular are granted ETC designation for the purpose of providing Lifeline service, these conditions will help ensure that their low-income consumers have access to 911 and enhanced 911 (E911) services and will help protect the USF against waste, fraud, and abuse. The FCC denied CAL Communications’ petition for forbearance for the purpose of participating in the Link Up program because the company did not demonstrate that granting its request would satisfy the three-prong statutory test for forbearance. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
FCC ESTABLISHES RURAL CALL COMPLETION TASK FORCE: The FCC has announced the creation of the Rural Call Completion Task Force to investigate and address the growing problem of calls to rural customers that are being delayed or that fail to connect. Rural telephone companies have reported a 2000% increase in complaints between April 2010 and March 2011 regarding incoming calls that are delayed, never completed, of poor quality, or lack accurate caller ID information. Failed or degraded calls not only undermine the integrity of the nation’s telephone networks and frustrate consumers, but they also pose a serious risk to public safety and harm the rural economy. According to the FCC, the problem appears to be occurring in rural areas where long-distance carriers pay charges to complete calls to the local telephone company, calls which may be delivered using specialized call routing providers. The FCC is working to comprehensively reform the system that sets these rates — the intercarrier compensation system — to reduce opportunities and incentives for arbitrage and other manipulation schemes. Reform proposals would also tighten rules that require carriers to provide accurate information about call origin for billing and other purposes. The Task Force will hold a workshop — tentatively scheduled for October 18 — to identify specific causes of the problem and discuss potential solutions with key stakeholders. Details about the workshop will be forthcoming. Issues for the Task Force and Workshop include: (1) the extent of the call termination problem in rural areas; (2) the causes of the problem, including whether carriers are violating the law by blocking or restricting calls to other carriers; and (3) actions that can be taken by the Commission to address the problem. The Rural Call Completion Task Force includes staff from the agency’s Wireline Competition, Public Safety and Homeland Security, and Enforcement Bureaus. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
FCC SEEKS COMMENT ON VAYA’s PETITION REGARDING TREATMENT OF VoIP FOR INTERCARRIER COMPENSATION PURPOSES: The FCC has asked for comments on Vaya Telecom’s petition for declaratory ruling regarding the application of intrastate access charges to voice over Internet protocol (VoIP)-originated calls that are sent to local exchange carriers’ (LECs’) customers for termination. Specifically, Vaya seeks a declaration that, “a LEC’s attempt to collect intrastate access charges on LEC-to-LEC VoIP traffic exchanges is an unlawful practice.” Vaya asserts that “[c]onsistent with the Commission’s treatment of ISP [Internet service provider]-bound traffic, this LEC-to-LEC, jurisdictionally interstate traffic exchange is subject to section 251(b) of the Telecommunications Act, and not the separate intrastate access charge regimes of the states.” Comments in this CC Docket No. 01-92 proceeding are due October 6. Interested parties may file comments on the Vaya Petition for Declaratory Ruling on or before October 6, 2011. According to the FCC, since the issue raised in Vaya’s petition, the treatment of VoIP for purposes of intercarrier compensation, is an issue already under consideration in CC Docket No. 01-92, 30 days are not required for interested parties to give full consideration to the issues in the petition. For the same reason, the FCC concluded that no reply comment period is necessary. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
FCC ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR NDBEDP PILOT PROGRAM THROUGH NOV. 21: The FCC’s rules establishing the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) pilot program became effective on September 21. The Commission will accept applications from programs interested in receiving certification to participate in the NDBEDP pilot program for a period of 60 days, starting from the date on which the rules became effective through November 21, 2011. Section 105 of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) directed the Commission to establish rules that define as eligible for funding support programs that distribute specialized customer premises equipment to low-income individuals who are deaf-blind. In accordance with this directive, in April of this year, the Commission established the NDBEDP as a pilot program to distribute equipment used for telecommunications services, Internet access services, and advanced communications, including interexchange services and advanced telecommunications and information services, to eligible people who are deaf-blind. The duration of this pilot program will be two years, with a Commission option to extend the program for an additional year. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
FCC EXTENDS COMMENT DATE ON DRAFT PEA UNTIL NOVEMBER 2: The FCC has extended the deadline for comments on its Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) of the Antenna Structure Registration Program (ASR EA Program) until November 2 (BloostonLaw Telecom Update, September 7). The draft PEA is an outgrowth of the FCC’s proposed interim rules that would impose substantial burdens on antenna tower owners subject to the ASR requirements. In particular, the ASR EA Program considers several different alternatives or options that could potentially impose significant costs and/or regulatory burdens on tower owners that are subject to the FCC’s ASR Rules. In addition to current requirements not related to migratory birds, these include: (a) requiring a 30-day public notice period (and potentially the filing of an environmental assessment (EA)) for all towers that are subject to the FCC’s ASR Rules — irrespective of whether the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) changes its obstruction lighting in order to eliminate red steady burning lights on antenna towers that are equipped with flashing red lights; (b) requiring the filing of an EA for all new ASR registered towers that are located outside of an antenna farm, regardless of height, use of guy wires or lighting scheme — towers in an antenna farm would require an EA only if it involved a substantial increase in size over existing towers or a change in lighting to steady burning lighting. EAs would also need to consider the effects not only on migratory birds, but also on Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles. BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, John Prendergast, and Richard Rubino.
FCC SEEKS COMMENT ON NPRM REGARDING CLOSED CAPTIONING FOR CERTAIN IP-DELIVERED VIDEO PROGRAMMING: The FCC has asked for comment on its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to implement provisions of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) that mandate rules for closed captioning of certain video programming delivered using Internet protocol (IP). The Commission seeks comment on rules that would apply to the distributors, providers, and owners of IP-delivered video programming, as well as the devices that display such programming. Comments in this MB Docket No. 11-154 proceeding are due October 18, and reply comments are due October 28. The NPRM seeks comment on proposals that would better enable individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to view IP-delivered video programming, by requiring that programming be provided with closed captions if it was shown on television with captions after the effective date of the rules adopted pursuant to this proceeding. The FCC also seeks comment on requirements for the devices that are subject to the CVAA's new closed captioning requirements. The Commission said its goal is to require the provision of closed captions with IP-delivered video programming in the manner most helpful to consumers, while ensuring that our regulations do not create undue economic burdens for the distributors, providers, and owners of online video programming. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
This newsletter is not intended to provide legal advice. Those interested in more information should contact the firm.