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Spok Reports 2019 Second Quarter Operating Results; Software Bookings up More Than 15 Percent From Prior Year; Continued Strong Wireless Trends
Board Declares Regular Quarterly Dividend
SPRINGFIELD, Va.—(BUSINESS WIRE)—Jul. 31, 2019— Spok Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPOK), a global leader in healthcare communications, today announced operating results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2019. In addition, the Company’s Board of Directors declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.125 per share, payable on September 10, 2019, to stockholders of record on August 16, 2019.
Key Second Quarter Operating Highlights:
Second quarter software revenue of $17.4 million was up more than 2.5 percent from software revenue of $17.0 million in the prior year quarter. Included in second quarter software revenue was $7.4 million of operations revenue and $10.0 million in maintenance revenue, compared to $7.5 million in operations revenue and $9.5 million in maintenance revenue in the second quarter of 2018. Software bookings in the second quarter totaled $21.3 million. Second quarter bookings included $9.2 million of operations bookings and a record $12.1 million of maintenance renewals. The renewal rate for software maintenance revenue in the second quarter of 2019 continued to exceed 99 percent. The quarterly rate of paging unit erosion was 0.5 percent in the second quarter of 2019, which matched the record low historical quarterly performance. This also compares to paging unit erosion of 1.0 percent in the prior quarter and 0.6 percent in the year-earlier period. Net paging unit losses were 5,000 in the second quarter of 2019, compared to 10,000 in the prior quarter and 6,000 in the second quarter of 2018. Paging units in service at June 30, 2019, totaled 977,000, compared to 1,024,000 at June 30, 2018.
For the second consecutive quarter, the rate of wireless revenue erosion was 2.1 percent, down from 2.5 percent erosion in the second quarter of 2018. Total paging ARPU (average revenue per unit) was $7.26 in the second quarter of 2019, compared to $7.32 in the prior quarter and $7.41 in the year-earlier quarter. Operating expenses in the second quarter of 2019 totaled $41.5 million, compared to $43.0 million in the prior year quarter. Adjusted operating expenses (excludes depreciation, amortization and accretion) totaled $39.2 million in the second quarter of 2019, compared to $38.3 million in the prior quarter and $40.3 million in the year-earlier quarter. Capital expenses were $1.5 million in the second quarter of 2019, compared to $2.3 million in the year-earlier quarter. The number of full-time equivalent employees at June 30, 2019 totaled 600, compared to 607 in the prior year quarter. Capital paid to stockholders in the second quarter of 2019 totaled $2.4 million. This came in the form of the Company's regular quarterly dividend. The Company’s cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments balance at June 30, 2019, was $77.7 million, compared to $87.3 million at December 31, 2018.
2019 Second Quarter and Year-To-Date Results:
Consolidated revenue for the second quarter of 2019 under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (“GAAP”) was $39.5 million compared to $40.6 million in the second quarter of 2018. For the first six months of 2019, consolidated revenue totaled $81.3 million, compared to $83.7 million in the first six months of 2018. [source and remainder of report]
Holdings, Inc. (SPOK) After Today’s Big Decline?
Posted by James Kohr on August 1, 2019 at 4:42 pm
Spok Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPOK) Logo The stock of Spok Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPOK) is a huge mover today! The stock decreased 4.46% or $0.58 during the last trading session, reaching $12.41. About 277,916 shares traded or 121.72% up from the average. Spok Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPOK) has declined 11.33% since August 1, 2018 and is downtrending. It has underperformed by 11.33% the S&P500. The move comes after 6 months negative chart setup for the $238.32M company. It was reported on Aug, 1 by Barchart.com. We have $11.42 PT which if reached, will make NASDAQ:SPOK worth $19.07M less.
More notable recent Spok Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPOK) news were published by: Seekingalpha.com which released: “5 Undervalued Small Cap Stocks For Value Investors — Seeking Alpha” on February 10, 2017, also Businesswire.com with their article: “Spok and Spectralink Partner to Empower Mobile Caregivers — Business Wire” published on March 01, 2018, Businesswire.com published: “‘Best Hospitals’ in the U.S. Trust Spok for Clinical Communications — Business Wire” on August 15, 2018. More interesting news about Spok Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPOK) were released by: Businesswire.com and their article: “Spok Unveils Two-Way Pager With Encryption Capabilities — Business Wire” published on November 30, 2016 as well as Nasdaq.com‘s news article titled: “Noteworthy Monday Option Activity: SPOK, CREE, AAL — Nasdaq” with publication date: May 20, 2019.
Spok Holdings, Inc., through its subsidiary, Spok, Inc., provides various communications solutions to healthcare, government, and other enterprises in the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, Asia, and the Middle East. The company has market cap of $238.32 million. The firm provides one-way messaging, including numeric messaging services, which enable subscribers to receive messages comprising numbers, such as phone numbers; and alphanumeric messages, including numbers and letters that enable subscribers to receive text messages. It currently has negative earnings. It also offers two-way messaging services that enable subscribers to send and receive messages to and from other wireless messaging devices, such as pagers, personal digital assistants, and personal computers; and voice mail, personalized greeting, message storage and retrieval, and equipment loss and/or maintenance protection to one-way and two-way messaging subscribers. [source]
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A new issue of the Wireless Messaging Newsletter is posted on the web each week. A notification goes out by e-mail to subscribers on most Fridays around noon central US time. The notification message has a link to the actual newsletter on the web. That way it doesn’t fill up your incoming e-mail account.
There is no charge for subscription and there are no membership restrictions. Readers are a very select group of wireless industry professionals, and include the senior managers of many of the world’s major Paging and Wireless Messaging companies. There is an even mix of operations managers, marketing people, and engineers — so I try to include items of interest to all three groups. It’s all about staying up-to-date with business trends and technology.
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Service Monitors and Frequency Standards for Sale
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Passive Audio Amps For Smart Phones
The rest of the Passive Audio Amps For Smart Phones page has been move to a separate page.
Several different styles are available.
These horns are now on display and for sale at:
Stop in for a demo and a great cup of espresso.
NHS will benefit as critical communications leaders come together to provide paging excellence.
Two heavyweights of the paging industry have joined forces to bring cutting-edge communications technology to the UK health sector.
PageOne, a leading provider of paging and alerting services to the NHS, is expanding its long-standing partnership with Swissphone to bring the benefits of next generation paging and alerting to the Health Sector. This includes unique Triple Resilience Paging (TRP) and a new ‘Bridge’ onsite paging and alerting solution that combines up-to-date technology with lower installation and operating costs.
TRP offers a fail-safe solution, ensuring that the message will always get through, regardless of location or network access. By simultaneously using three communication networks; onsite and wide area paging, together with Global Systems for Mobile Communications (GSM) data networks, the system ensures that there are no dead areas and that even if two networks fail, the message will still arrive.
The ability of the TRP devices to receive detailed text messages and instructions, and users to be able to acknowledge receipt and reply to messages, improves communication and workflow to help deliver improved patient care.
PageOne’s new Bridge onsite paging solution combines its powerful messaging platform with Swissphone transmitters and voice consoles to offer high-resilience, multi-channel paging and alerting solution that supports voice and alpha-numeric paging together with integration to local PBX and third party systems, such as nurse call, patient monitoring fire and environmental alarms. Bridge uniquely supports a dual-frequency capability with messages being routed both via the local onsite transmitters and PageOne’s national network which combine to offer unrivaled resilience and coverage.
The solution deliberately offers maximum flexibility and resilience with lower ongoing costs to Trust managers who are looking to improve staff productivity whilst ensuring tried and tested alerting methods are maintained at its core. Total cost of ownership is further reduced by the use of Swissphone’s devices with premium levels of water/shock/drop resistance which lowers ongoing repair costs.
Swissphone is a global leader in the critical communications market. PageOne has become one of the UK’s leading mobile technology specialists and the two companies already have a long-standing partnership. Swissphone will now act as the manufacturing partner of PageOne, supporting the sales process for TRP and onsite alerting solutions into the NHS.
Chris Jones, CEO, PageOne said: “We’re delighted to enhance our relationship with Swissphone by joining together to provide the best possible service to the NHS. As the pioneers of two-way paging services used by the NHS and emergency services, we are committed to providing cutting-edge technology through our Triple Resilience Paging system that will ensure the NHS can continue to save lives, safe in the knowledge that they have a failsafe communications system supporting them.”
Graeme Hull, Head of International Sales at Swissphone said: “Swissphone is very pleased to extend its long-standing partnership with PageOne into the health sector. We recognize the vital life-saving role that paging continues to play within the NHS and both Swissphone and PageOne are committed to creating an alternative option for NHS Trusts to implement new and innovative alerting Solutions.
These solutions will combine best in class devices and alerting infrastructure, coupled with innovative commercial solutions, delivering with true value for money to the NHS and it’s amazing staff.”
|Source:||PageOne And Swissphone|
Paging Transmitters 150/900 MHz
The RFI High Performance Paging Transmitter is designed for use in campus, city, state and country-wide paging systems. Designed for use where reliable simulcast systems where RF signal overlap coverage is critical.
Built-in custom interface for Prism-IPX ipBSC Base Controller for remote control, management and alarm reporting.
Prism-IPX Systems LLC.
Back To Paging
Still The Most Reliable Protocol For Wireless Messaging!
I would like to recommend Easy Solutions for Support of all Glenayre Paging Equipment. This Texas company is owned and operated by Vaughan Bowden. I have known Vaughan for over 35 years. Without going into a long list of his experience and qualifications, let me just say that he was the V.P. of Engineering at PageNet which was—at that time—the largest paging company in the world. So Vaughan knows Paging.
GTES is no longer offering support contracts. GTES was the original group from Vancouver that was setup to offer support to customers that wanted to continue with the legacy Glenayre support. Many U.S. customers chose not to use this service because of the price and the original requirement to upgrade to version 8.0 software (which required expensive hardware upgrades, etc.). Most contracts ended as of February 2018.
If you are at all concerned about future support of Glenayre products, especially the “king of the hill” the GL3000 paging control terminal, I encourage you to talk to Vaughan about a service contract and please tell him about my recommendation.
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Telecom Alert — FCC Chairman Announces Modernization Proposal; Massachusetts Contract with Verizon; FCC Denies Paging Application for Review; Beyond Telecom Law Blog Post — Vol. XVI, Issue 30
Monday, July 29, 2019
FCC Chairman Announces Modernization Proposal
Last week, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced two proposals to modernize the FCC’s processes. The first proposal would be to fully convert the Universal Licensing System (ULS) from paper to electronic. The vast majority of ULS filings are already submitted electronically. The second proposal is to streamline hearing proceedings by providing for more written hearings. Through written hearings, parties submit their testimony in writing, rather than appearing in person.
Massachusetts Contract with Verizon
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has authorized Verizon to offer services to public safety entities through the state’s public safety wireless agreement. This is the first multi-vendor procurement deal for state and local public safety in the country. Verizon issued a press release stating that Verizon is “committed to supporting interoperability and open technology standards with other wireless providers who provide public safety products and solutions.” While Massachusetts opted-in to FirstNet, this does not mandate that all local public safety agencies use FirstNet.
FCC Denies Paging License Application for Review
Last week, the Commission issued an Order denying an application for review regarding Part 22 paging licenses. The licensee Charles E. Bade, filed requests for extension of time to meet the construction requirements for five Part 22 geographic area paging licenses. In the requests, the licensee cited delays in gaining regulatory approvals from Canada. In the Order, the Commission explained that they had instructed bidders that sites north of Line A would need to clear Canadian coordination. In this specific case, the licensee’s applications failed Canadian coordination. The licensee filed a second round of applications, two of which passed Canadian coordination. The others were dismissed when the licensee did not file amendments.
© 2019 Keller and Heckman LLP
|Source:||The National Law Review|
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Mid-Missouri fire protection districts receive equipment grants
July 31st, 2019
The Missouri Department of Conservation's Forestry Division is distributing 168 volunteer fire assistance grants throughout the state, and fire protection districts in Cole, Moniteau, Miller and Osage counties have received funds to complete their 50 percent match requests to purchase firefighting equipment.
The Eldon Fire Department matched the remaining half of a $2,968 grant for communication equipment. Chief Randy Vernon said 11 pagers replaced older models and will be distributed among volunteer firefighters.
Pagers are used to communicate with the department's 22 volunteers in the field or at home. The department has six full-time staff who rotate 48-hour shifts.
The grant is competitive throughout the state and is extremely helpful for updating equipment, Vernon said.
"If it wasn't for grants, we wouldn't be able to function as effectively as we are now," he said.
In January, the Eldon Fire Department received a $336,000 federal Assistance to Firefighters grant for self-contained breathing apparatus bottles and fire gear. The city matched $16,000 of the cost.
Other Miller County districts that received MDC grants include the St. Elizabeth Fire Protection District, $897, and Tuscumbia Fire Protection District, $2,390.79.
The St. Elizabeth district purchased a drop tank. The Tuscumbia district purchased more than a dozen items including eight fire hoses, gloves, helmets, a siren and speaker.
The Russellville-Lohman Fire Protection District received $3,000 and purchased five pagers, six backpack pumps, three backpack blowers and three handheld blowers. The equipment costs $6,212.05.
The California Rural Fire Protection District submitted a request for $5,669.44 to replace 14 older backpack blowers, which firefighters use in wildland grass fires. The match of $2,834.72 had not been awarded at the time this story was published.
Chief Shawn Merrill said among the various grants the department applies for, this one in particular they count on the most.
The Jamestown Rural Fire Protection District received $918 and purchased three chainsaws with carrying cases.
The Argyle Volunteer Fire Department in Osage County received about $2,975. Chief Ruben Wieberg said the department purchased 10 radios, four battery chargers for radios, eight pagers, one chainsaw and two backpack blowers.
"A lot of times if you get out in a wildland fire you'll have trees that you have to cut down, too," Wieberg said.
MDC Wildfire Program Supervisor Ben Webster said the match grants help recipients, especially those with small budgets, make purchases for protective clothing, radios, truck equipment and more.
"The farther out in the rural community you get, the tighter the budget gets," Webster said.
The MDC program will award $386,639.14 in grants this year. For more than 30 years, more than $8 million has been distributed to rural fire departments
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Internet Protocol Terminal
The IPT accepts Internet or serial messaging using various protocols and can easily convert them to different protocols, or send them out as paging messages.
An ideal platform for hospitals, on-site paging applications, or converting legacy systems to modern protocols.
Prism-IPX Systems LLC.
Paging Data Receiver PDR-4
The PDR-4 is a multi-function paging data receiver that decodes paging messages and outputs them via the serial port, USB or Ethernet connectors.
Designed for use with Prism-IPX ECHO software Message Logging Software to receive messages and log the information for proof of transmission over the air, and if the data was error free.
Prism-IPX Systems LLC.
Wireless Network Planners
Jul 31, 2019, 05:57am
Windows 10 Warning: 250M Account Trojan Can Disable Windows Defender
Davey Winder Senior Contributor
Trickbot is not a new threat, but it is an evolving one. The latest twist of the banking Trojan knife as far as Windows 10 users are concerned is the addition of new methods to not only evade but actually disable Windows Defender security protection.
As reported on July 14 in Forbes, Trickbot is a particularly stealthy banking Trojan that has been around since 2016. Since then, it was thought to have compromised no less than 250 million email accounts in an effort to distribute the malware payload. That payload includes the stealing of online banking credentials and cryptocurrency wallets.
Microsoft has always been front and center as far as Trickbot attack campaigns are concerned, with weaponized Word and Excel files being a favored approach. The latest campaign is targeting Windows 10 users and implementing a highly detailed and convincing, but fake nonetheless, Office 365 page to prompt for browser updates that install the Trojan itself.
Disabling Windows Defender
But the really stealthy stuff, and what marks Trickbot as being one of the more dangerous Trojans out in the wild right now, is how it targets those Windows 10 users who rely upon Windows Defender to protect their machines from malware threats. It has been a common thread, at least among the more sophisticated malware seen across the years, to use various methodologies to evade detection by security software and so prevent being neutered.
Trickbot is going the extra malware mile, however, and is not only detecting Windows Defender but employing no less than 17 steps in an attempt to disable it altogether.
The ever-reliable Bleeping Computer reports that once executed, Trickbot attempts to disable and delete the WinDefend service, terminate processes associated with Windows Defender, add a Windows policy to disable Windows Defender, disable Windows Defender real-time protection and disable security notifications.
However, that has apparently not been successful enough, and so the developers of the Trickbot Trojan have now added more steps in their attempt to prevent Windows Defender from protecting Windows 10 users from this threat.
The Bleeping Computer report reveals that researchers MalwareHunterTeam and Vitali Kremez reverse-engineered a newly-discovered Trickbot variant and found it had added a further dozen methods to the attack arsenal. "These methods utilize either Registry settings or the Set-MpPreference PowerShell command to set Windows Defender preferences," Bleeping Computer reports.
Can Trickbot be stopped?
John Opdenakker, an ethical hacker, says that general best practice such as blocking access to the Windows Registry and ensuring that users don't have admin rights by default make for good mitigation advice. However, it does "depend on how advanced the particular malware is of course," Opdenakker adds, "and Trickbot appears to perform elevation to gain higher system privileges once executed."
Then there is AppLocker, something that is included in Windows 10 but rarely seems to be deployed by the average user.
According to the official Microsoft documentation, "AppLocker helps you control which apps and files users can run. These include executable files, scripts, Windows Installer files, dynamic-link libraries (DLLs), packaged apps, and packaged app installers."
Ian Thornton-Trump, head of cybersecurity for Amtrust International, says that considering AppLocker is installed and available, "I just don't understand why more folks are not using it to allow only authorized software to run on endpoints."
As Thornton-Trump points out, the general rule of thumb when it comes to protecting your systems is "why make it easy?" and he concludes "after all, if you can load a font then you can load an exploit."
It has also been pointed out to me that Windows "Tamper Protection" blocks attempts to modify Windows Defender settings through the registry and is turned on by default. This should prevent most of the new steps used by Trickbot from being effective.
Vitali Kremez, one of the researchers responsible for the reverse engineering of Trickbot, confirms that it is effective in disabling Windows Defender. However, Kremez also tells me that "it does not really bypass tamper protection on Windows 10," which means that as long as this has not been disabled "users on Windows 10 should be relatively safe from having their Windows Defender disabled."
A Microsoft spokesperson issued the following statement: "The latest version of Windows Defender protects against this variant of Trickbot malware. Customers who apply the update, or have automatic updates enabled, will be protected. We continue to encourage customers to turn on automatic updates to help ensure they are protected."
Kremez warns that "TrickBot has more persistence means and methods to stay undetected," so this shouldn't be seen as a pass for Windows 10 users. Those who have disabled tamper protection, possibly to avoid conflict with a third-party security application, are certainly at risk.
I have also been informed by Kremez that the Forbes article and the DeepInstinct report it referenced, which refers to 250 million email accounts compromised is incorrect. "We discovered it way earlier," Kremez says, adding "the TrickBot group did not compromise 265 million (the actual number) email accounts, but rather they collected those email boxes." The title of this story has been amended accordingly to reflect this newly disclosed information.
Updated July 31, 2019: This post was updated with further risk mitigation advice.
Updated July 31, 2019: This post was updated with further information following a conversation with one of the researchers, Vitali Kremez.
Updated August 1, 2019: A statement from Microsoft has been added.
Remote AB Switches
ABX-1 switches are often used at remote transmitter sites to convert from old, outdated and unsupported controllers to the new modern Prism-IPX ipBSC base station controllers. Remotely switch to new controllers with GUI commands.
ABX-3 switches are widely used for enabling or disabling remote equipment and switching I/O connections between redundant messaging systems.
Prism-IPX Systems LLC.
FCC Proposes Launching $20B+ for Rural Broadband Amid Data Concerns
August 2, 2019 6:00 am
Sparks didn’t fly among the FCC Commissioners Thursday as vigorously as they often do over an item to set the launch of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund in motion. Yet there was still room to disagree over how fast the agency is working to distribute funds to broadband providers.
Chairman Ajit Pai announced the fund this spring alongside President Donald Trump.
It will direct up to $20.4 billion over ten years to help providers build out broadband in unserved rural areas. The money is repurposed from existing subsidy dollars.
Commissioner Michael O’Rielly lauded the effort, which he said, “takes necessary and appropriate steps to ensure unserved areas are prioritized.” He asked for extra financial incentives for providers to serve the hardest areas and is pleased those made it into the final Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
Democratic Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Geoffrey Starks approved part of the item and disagreed with portions of the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM). Rosenworcel said the agency needs to think about broadband the way regulators thought about rural electrification in the 1930’s and get the maps right first — before any funds are allocated. “There’s something fundamentally wrong in this rulemaking. It barely mentions a separate proceeding we’re voting on today for maps. This distributes [money] before any new data comes before this agency. Choosing where these funds go for the next ten years without accurate data is a problem.”
Starks agreed, saying: “The quicker the time to auction, the less time to ensure the data is accurate. It appears to me the item is choosing speed over accuracy.”
“I strongly oppose this idea” of waiting, countered Pai. He said there’s no reason to deny broadband opportunities to Americans “whom we know lack access. The FCC has defined broadband as 25 Mpbs (download) for some time. We are proposing to get more broadband to more Americans, faster” by making more areas eligible for support and requiring faster service than last year’s Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II reverse auction, said Pai.
In the NPRM, the FCC seeks comment on proposals to:
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief
|Source:||Inside Towers newsletter|| Courtesy of the editor of Inside Towers.
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Selected portions [sometimes more — sometimes less — sometimes the whole updates] of the BloostonLaw Telecom Update and/or the BloostonLaw Private Users Update — newsletters from the Law Offices of Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP — are reproduced in this section of The Wireless Messaging News with kind permission from the firm. The firm's contact information is included at the end of this section of the newsletter.
FCC Announces Availability of Auction 103 Incumbent Short Form Applications
July 29, the FCC announced that the Incumbent 39 GHz Licensee Short-Form Applications (FCC Form 175-A) submitted in preparation for Auction 103 are now available to the public. FCC Form 175-A applicants and other interested parties may view submitted FCC Form 175-A applications by searching for them in the FCC’s database on the FCC’s website. To start a search, go to either auctions.fcc.gov (primary location) or auctions2.fcc.gov (secondary location) and click the Auction Application Search link in the “Public Access” area on the Auction Application System screen.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast.
FCC Announces Official Agenda for August Meeting; Rural Funding NPRM at Top of the List
On July 25, the FCC announced the official agenda for its upcoming Open Meeting, currently scheduled for August 1. Among other items, the FCC will be considering a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would propose to adopt a two-phase reverse auction framework for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, committing $20.4 billion in high-cost universal service. Carriers interested in commenting on the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund should contact the firm for more information without delay.
According to the public draft of the NPRM, the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund would target support to areas that lack access to 25/3 Mbps broadband service. It would be implemented though a two-phase approach that would allocate support using a multi-round, descending clock auction, similar to how Connect America Fund Phase II was conducted. Phase I of the RDOF auction would allocate support to wholly unserved census blocks and Phase II would allocate support to unserved locations in partially unserved census blocks along with areas not won in Phase I. The budget is proposed to be set at $20.4 billion in high-cost universal service support over a 10-year support term, making available at least $16 billion for Phase I and the remainder available for Phase II.
The FCC proposes to use a similar “weighting” system for bids as it used in CAF II, and proposes using the same service milestones. Under this system, being assigned a high weight hurts your proposal. The proposed performance tiers, latency, and bid weights are:
[“≥” greater than or equal to]
The FCC is also proposing to set reserve prices using the Connect America Cost Model to establish the maximum per-location bid amount that the FCC is willing to fund, and a transition framework for phasing down existing support in auctioned areas. Specifically, the FCC seeks comment on how to transition (i) incumbent price cap carriers from legacy high-cost support in areas where Rural Digital Opportunity Fund support is awarded and (ii) price cap carriers from CAF Phase II model-based support in areas where Rural Digital Opportunity Fund support is awarded.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, Mary Sisak, and Sal Taillefer.
FCC Announces Updated Minimum Lifeline Service Standards and Usage Allowances
On July 25, the FCC announced the updated minimum service standards for speed and usage allowances for Lifeline-supported services as required by the 2016 Lifeline Order, which take effect December 1, 2019. The FCC also announced the indexed budget for 2020.
The 2016 Lifeline Order established minimum service standards for certain Lifeline-supported services and either established annual increases in those standards in the FCC’s rules or directed the Bureau to update the minimum service standards pursuant to calculations set out in the Order and the FCC’s rules. Specifically:
We note, however, that the FCC provides an exception to the fixed broadband minimum service speed standard when the Lifeline provider does not offer any generally available residential fixed broadband packages that meet the minimum service standard at a subscriber’s residence. In such situations, the Lifeline provider may receive Lifeline support for the highest performing generally available residential fixed broadband service offering of at least 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Gerry Duffy, Mary Sisak, and Sal Taillefer.
FCC Provides Guidance for Upcoming EAS Test
On July 25, the FCC issued a Public Notice providing recommendations to Emergency Alert System (EAS) test participants to help correct inaccuracies in previous the EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS), such as outdated software, poor audio, improper equipment configuration, and inaccurate EAS equipment system clocks. Specifically, the FCC provides the following recommendations.
As we reported in a previous edition of the BloostonLaw Telecom Update, the FCC will conduct a nationwide test of the EAS on August 7, 2019, at 2:20 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), with a backup date of August 21, 2019.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Cary Mitchell.
FCC Extends Comment Deadline on EEO Proceeding
On July 30, the FCC issued an Order granting an extension of time to file comments and reply comments on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking of July 12, in which the FCC sought comment on how to improve equal employment opportunity (EEO) compliance and enforcement. Accordingly, comments are now due September 20, and reply comments are now due November 4.
In the NPRM, the FCC seeks comment on its track record on EEO enforcement and whether the agency should make improvements to EEO compliance and enforcement. The FCC also seeks comment on suggestions to reevaluate its audit program “to ensure that auditors have sufficient information to verify that hiring decisions were made after the job postings were made, not before-hand, and that audits are allowed to uncover discrimination at the points of recruitment, interviewing, and selection.”
BloostonLaw Contact: Richard Rubino.
Law & Regulation
Senators Introduce Supply Chain Legislation
On July 30, U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Mark Warner (D-Virginia) introduced the Manufacturing, Investment, and Controls Review for Computer Hardware, Intellectual Property and Supply (MICROCHIPS) Act (S. 2316). The legislation is indented to “guard against attempts by the People’s Republic of China and others to undermine U.S. national security by exploiting and penetrating U.S. supply chains.”
According to a press release, the MICROCHIPS Act contains four sections with the following main components:
“Actions by the People’s Republic of China have contributed to an unfair and unsafe advantage in its technological race against the United States,” said Senator Crapo. “Through government investments and subsidies, as well as intellectual property theft of companies like Idaho’s Micron, China aims to dominate a $1.5 trillion electronics industry, which creates serious, far-reaching threats to the supply chains that support the U.S. government and military. The MICROCHIPS Act would create a coordinated whole-of-government approach to identify and prevent these efforts and others aimed at undermining or interrupting the timely and secure provision of dual-use technologies vital to our national security.”
“While there is a broad recognition of the threats to our supply chain posed by China, we still lack a coordinated, whole-of-government strategy to defend ourselves,” said Senator Warner. “As a result, U.S. companies lose billions of dollars to intellectual property theft every year, and counterfeit and compromised electronics in U.S. military, government and critical civilian platforms give China potential backdoors to compromise these systems. We need a national strategy to unify efforts across the government to protect our supply chain and our national security.”
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, John Prendergast, and Sal Taillefer.
FCC Cancels Auction 104
On July 26, the FCC issued a Public Notice announcing that Auction104 has been cancelled. Auction 104 was scheduled to auction certain low power television and television translator (LPTV/translator) construction permits for which mutually exclusive applications were received from LPTV/translator stations displaced as a result of the post-broadcast incentive auction transition. According to the Public Notice, applicants were permitted to enter into and submit settlement agreements that would resolve mutual exclusivity until the July 22, 2019, short-form application deadline. The FCC has accepted and approved dismissal requests or settlement proposals resolving the mutual exclusivity for all of the available permits. Accordingly, there is no need to conduct bidding in this auction.
BloostonLaw Contact: Richard Rubino.
DOJ Settles with T-Mobile and Sprint Over Merger
On July 26, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that it reached a settlement which, if approved by the court, would resolve the Department’s concerns about the purchase by T-Mobile US, Inc. of Sprint Corp. Under the terms of the proposed settlement, T-Mobile and Sprint must divest Sprint’s prepaid business, including Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Sprint prepaid, to Dish Network Corp., a Colorado-based satellite television provider. The proposed settlement also provides for the divestiture of certain spectrum assets to Dish. Additionally, T-Mobile and Sprint must make available to Dish at least 20,000 cell sites and hundreds of retail locations. T-Mobile must also provide Dish with robust access to the T-Mobile network for a period of seven years while Dish builds out its own 5G network.
Chairman Ajit Pai issued the following statement:
Commissioner Rosenworcel was less enthusiastic:
The state Attorneys General of Nebraska, Kansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, and South Dakota joined DoJ in the settlement. However, T-Mobile and Sprint still face a lawsuit filed by the Attorneys General from 13 other states and the District of Columbia to block the deal.
JULY 31: CARRIER IDENTIFICATION CODE (CIC) REPORTS. Carrier Identification Code (CIC) Reports must be filed by the last business day of July (this year, July 31). These reports are required of all carriers who have been assigned a CIC code by NANPA. Failure to file could result in an effort by NANPA to reclaim it, although according to the Guidelines this process is initiated with a letter from NANPA regarding the apparent non-use of the CIC code. The assignee can then respond with an explanation. (Guidelines Section 6.2). The CIC Reporting Requirement is included in the CIC Assignment Guidelines, produced by ATIS. According to section 1.4 of that document: At the direction of the NANPA, the access providers and the entities who are assigned CICs will be requested to provide access and usage information to the NANPA, on a semi-annual basis to ensure effective management of the CIC resource. (Holders of codes may respond to the request at their own election). Access provider and entity reports shall be submitted to NANPA no later than January 31 for the period ending December 31, and no later than July 31 for the period ending June 30. It is also referenced in the NANPA Technical Requirements Document, which states at 7.18.6: CIC holders shall provide a usage report to the NANPA per the industry CIC guidelines … The NAS shall be capable of accepting CIC usage reports per guideline requirements on January 31 for the period ending December 31 and no later than July 31 for the period ending June 30. These reports may also be mailed and accepted by the NANPA in paper form. Finally, according to the NANPA website, if no local exchange carrier reports access or usage for a given CIC, NANPA is obliged to reclaim it. The semi-annual utilization and access reporting mechanism is described at length in the guidelines.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and Gerry Duffy.
AUGUST 1: FCC FORM 499-Q, TELECOMMUNICATIONS REPORTING WORKSHEET. All telecommunications common carriers that expect to contribute more than $10,000 to federal Universal Service Fund (USF) support mechanisms must file this quarterly form. The FCC has modified this form in light of its recent decision to establish interim measures for USF contribution assessments. The form contains revenue information from the prior quarter plus projections for the next quarter. Form 499-Q relates only to USF contributions. It does not relate to the cost recovery mechanisms for the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund, the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA), and the shared costs of local number portability (LNP), which are covered in the annual form (Form 499-A) that was due April 1.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and Gerry Duffy.
AUGUST 1: FCC FORM 502, NUMBER UTILIZATION AND FORECAST REPORT: Any wireless or wireline carrier (including paging companies) that have received number blocks—including 100, 1,000, or 10,000 number blocks—from the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA), a Pooling Administrator, or from another carrier, must file Form 502 by August 1. Carriers porting numbers for the purpose of transferring an established customer’s service to another service provider must also report, but the carrier receiving numbers through porting does not. Resold services should also be treated like ported numbers, meaning the carrier transferring the resold service to another carrier is required to report those numbers but the carrier receiving such numbers should not report them. Reporting carriers file utilization and forecast reports semiannually on or before February 1 for the preceding six-month reporting period ending December 31, and on or before August 1 for the preceding six-month reporting period ending June 30.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and Gerry Duffy.
AUGUST 1: Live 911 Call Data Reports: Non-Nationwide Providers that do not provide coverage in any of the Test Cities must collect and report aggregate data based on the largest county within its footprint to APCO, NENA, and NASNA on the location technologies used for live 911 calls in those areas. Clients should obtain spreadsheets with their company’s compliance data from their E911 service provider (e.g., Intrado / West).
BloostonLaw Contact: Cary Mitchell.
AUGUST 29: COPYRIGHT STATEMENT OF ACCOUNTS. The Copyright Statement of Accounts form plus royalty payment for the first half of calendar year 2019 is due to be filed August 29 at the Library of Congress’ Copyright Office by cable TV service providers.
BloostonLaw Contact: Gerry Duffy.
SEPTEMBER 3: FCC FORM 477, LOCAL COMPETITION AND BROADBAND REPORTING FORM. Normally due September 1, this year’s filing falls on a federal holiday weekend, pushing the deadline back to the next business day. Four types of entities must file this form:
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens and Gerry Duffy.
SEPTEMBER 30: FCC FORM 396-C, MVPD EEO PROGRAM REPORTING FORM. Each year on September 30, multi-channel video program distributors (“MVPDs”) must file with the FCC an FCC Form 396-C, Multi-Channel Video Programming Distributor EEO Program Annual Report, for employment units with six or more full-time employees. Users must access the FCC’s electronic filing system via the Internet in order to submit the form; it will not be accepted if filed on paper unless accompanied by an appropriate request for waiver of the electronic filing requirement. Certain MVPDs also will be required to complete portions of the Supplemental Investigation Sheet (“SIS”) located at the end of the Form. These MVPDs are specifically identified in a Public Notice each year by the FCC.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Gerry Duffy and Sal Taillefer.
Chairman Pai Announces Two FCC Modernization Proposals – Would Eliminate Private User Exemption for Paper Filings in ULS
On July 22, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai issued a Press Release announcing with two new proposals to modernize and streamline the FCC’s processes. Under the first proposal (which will be of great interest to our Private User clients), the FCC would continue the agency’s move toward electronic filing and correspondence by fully transitioning the Universal Licensing System — the FCC’s licensing system for private radio licenses — from paper to electronic format. The second proposal would expedite the Commission’s hearing processes by expanding the use of written hearings (i.e. hearings conducted without live testimony). In this regard, the FCC has opened a new docket for this proposal and we anticipate that a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will be forthcoming in WT Docket 19-212.
Under the FCC’s current rules, licensees in the Part 90 radio services are permitted to manually file paper applications in to the Universal Licensing System. Under Chairman Pai’s proposal, this exception would no longer apply and all private radio licensees would be required to file applications electronically like all of the other radio services.
“As the communications marketplace is being transformed by the digital revolution, we must continue to modernize our own operations.” said Chairman Pai. “That’s why I’m introducing two new proposals to update and streamline our processes for the digital age. By transitioning more records and communications from paper to electronic format, we can save money and increase our efficiency. . .”
We anticipate that the FCC will be issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which will give the public an opportunity to comment on Chairman Pai’s proposals.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Richard Rubino
FCC Issues $25,000 Forfeiture for Failing to Light Two Antenna Towers
The FCC has issued a Forfeiture Order imposing a $25,000 fine against Pentecostal Temple Development Corporation (Pentecostal Temple) for failing to properly light two antenna structures, for failing to notify the FAA of lighting outages, and for failing to clean or repaint the antenna structures as often as necessary to maintain good visibility in violation of Section 303(q) of the Communications Act and Sections 17.23, 17.48(a), and 17.50 of the Commission’s Rules. Maintaining proper obstruction marking and lighting on antenna structures is critical to the protection of aviation safety as there have been numerous accidents over the years — especially involving general aviation aircraft and helicopters.
While Pentecostal Temple filed what ostensibly could be a response to the Notice, it failed to follow instructions and did not properly make its filing. As a result, the FCC rejected the filings and treated Pentecostal Temple as if it had not responded to the notice — thereby affirming the proposed $25,000 fine in full. In particular, Pentecostal Temple submitted a Petition for Reconsideration of the Notice to the Office of the Managing Director on January 30, 2017 rather than to the Enforcement Bureau as directed in the Notice. Further, a formal response to the Notice was submitted to the Office of Managing Director on February 21, 2017 — again, instead of to the Enforcement Bureau. Because these documents were improperly submitted, the FCC returned them to Pentecostal Temple without consideration.
Any client who receives a notice from the FCC should contact our office so that we can assist you in the preparation of any response and avoid the potential pitfalls of any misfiling. This case demonstrates that the FCC can impose a “letter-perfect” standard when it comes to procedural errors and may not consider filings that do not fully comply with its procedures.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Richard Rubino
Changes to Tower Marking and Lighting Rules May be Coming with Increased Costs
In 2018, Congress amended the FAA Extension, Safety and Security Act of 2016 , which among other things, required improved physical obstruction marking and lighting on all small to medium sized towers (between 50 feet and 200 feet above ground level). This legislation was designed to protect low flying aircraft — such as crop dusters — from temporary meteorological testing towers. FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly expressed concern that the language in the 2016 Act was over-broad; and “[i]f implemented literally, the provision will force expensive retrofits to potentially 50,000 existing towers, such as wireless communications and certain broadcast towers, all new towers that meet the broad definition, and raise tower prices for the next generation of wireless services — all with little gain to air safety.”
The 2018 Act amended Section 2110 by providing an alternative for compliance with respect to certain types of towers. Under the 2018 Act, a “covered tower” is any structure that is (a) a meteorological evaluation tower, a self-standing tower or a tower supported by guy wires and ground anchors; (b) 10 feet or less in diameter at the above-ground base (excluding the concrete ground footing) and (c) at least 50 feet above ground level, but not more than 200 feet above ground level. The covered tower must have accessory facilities on which an antenna, sensor, camera, meteorological instrument or other equipment is mounted, and be located on land that is either in a rural area or used for agricultural purposes, or immediately adjacent to such land.
Covered towers (other than meteorological evaluation towers) will have to be either obstruction marked and lighted in accordance with specifications recommended by the FAA, or be included in an FAA database that includes the location and height of each covered tower that the owner or operator elects not to mark (unless the Administrator has determined that there is a significant safety risk requiring that the tower be marked). Meteorological evaluation towers will be required to be both obstruction marked and lighted and listed in the FAA’s database.
The FAA is in the process of preparing proposed rules to implement these new tower requirements, which rule proposal is expected later this fall. While the FAA’s staff has informally indicated that the proposed obstruction marking and lighting rule changes are not intended to affect radio towers, the final paragraph in Section 576 of the 2018 Act indicates that the FCC will be required to amend Rule Section 17.7 in order to require notification to the FAA for any construction or alteration of an antenna structure that would qualify as a “covered tower.” We believe that this change is designed to assist the FAA in implementing its database requirement as described above. However, there is room for concern that new expenses could be coming for telecom towers as a result.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Richard Rubino
FEMA and FCC Announce Nationwide Test of Emergency Alert System on August 7, 2019
Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) should be aware that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the FCC have scheduled its annual 2019 Emergency Alert System (EAS) nationwide test for Wednesday, August 7, 2019, at 2:20 p.m. EDT, with a backup date of August 21, 2019. All EAS Participants, including wired and wireless cable television systems, as well as wireline video systems, are required to participate in this test.
The FCC has opened its EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS) for 2019 filings. To the extent that our clients may be required to participate in the EAS Test because they also provide wired and wireless cable television service or wireline video systems, if they have not done so already, our clients that are EAS Participants should renew their identifying information in the 2019 ETRS Form One to identify and make necessary updates to the information previously provided. All EAS Participants must renew their identifying information required by ETRS Form One on an annual basis.
In contrast to previous years, this year’s EAS test will not use the Internet to distribute the EAS message. Only the broadcast “daisy-chain” system will be used. It is therefore very important that clients review their state EAS plans to confirm they are monitoring the proper broadcast stations. Testing the daisy chain will allow the FCC and FEMA to assess the reliability and effectiveness of broadcast-based alerting as a failsafe to our national emergency communications infrastructure.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast and Richard Rubino
House Approves Robocall Bill
On July 17, the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act (H.R. 3375) was favorably reported, as amended, to the full House of Representatives by a vote of 48-0. Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) introduced the bill with Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Bob Latta (R-OH). As we reported in a previous edition of the BloostonLaw Telecom Update, H.R. 3375, the “Stopping Bad Robocalls Act,” would require the FCC to adopt certain consumer protections; require all carriers, over time, to implement call authentication technology; and allow the blocking of calls in a reasonable manner without an extra charge.
Several amendments were also adopted that may be important to our private user clients: One amendment to H.R. 3375, offered by Pallone and Walden, includes transparency and redress for erroneously blocked calls. This protection can be vital to certain businesses such as security companies that depend on robocalls to make follow up attempts to contact customers about alarm conditions. Another amendment, offered by Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Michael Burgess (R-TX), requires the FCC to establish a Hospital Robocall Working Group to issue best practices to help voice service providers combat unlawful robocalls made to hospitals, and to help hospitals protect themselves from robocalls. The amendment also requires the FCC to initiate a proceeding to determine whether the voluntary adoption of the practices can be facilitated. A third amendment, offered by Reps. Bill Flores (R-TX) and Jerry McNerney (D-CA), allows the FCC to assess an additional $10,000 penalty for a robocall violation if the offender acted with intent to cause the violation.
Rep. Pallone said: “Today, the American people are one step closer to reclaiming control of their phones from annoying and illegal robocalls. I’m proud of the strong support the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act received in Committee today, and thank Ranking Members Walden and Latta and Chairman Doyle for working with me on this legislation to end the robocall epidemic. This legislation will ensure every call Americans get is verified by Caller ID and that consumers can block calls they don’t want. I look forward to having the full House vote on our bill soon.”
BloostonLaw Contacts: Mary Sisak and Sal Taillefer.
FCC to Consider Text Spoofing Rules at August Open Meeting
On July 8, FCC Chairman Pai announced that he has circulated for consideration by the full Commission an item banning malicious caller ID spoofing of text messages and international calls. A draft of the item is expected to be released on July 11, and it will be considered at the August 1 Open Meeting. According to a Press Release, the proposed text spoofing rules would implement the provisions of RAY BAUM’S Act that extend the existing prohibition on transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information (“spoofing”) with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongly obtain anything of value (part of the Truth in Caller ID Act) to include text messages and international calls. The FCC reportedly received more than 35,000 complaints about caller ID spoofing in the first six months of 2019 alone.
“Scammers often robocall us from overseas, and when they do, they typically spoof their numbers to try and trick consumers,” said Chairman Pai. “Call center fraudsters often pretend to be calling from trusted organizations and use pressure tactics to steal from Americans. We must attack this problem with every tool we have. With these new rules, we’ll close the loopholes that hamstring law enforcement when they try to pursue international scammers and scammers using text messaging.”
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, Mary Sisak and Sal Taillefer.
AT&T Announces Call Blocking Program
AT&T recently announced that new AT&T Mobility consumer lines will come with automatic fraud blocking and suspected spam-call alerts, and that it will add the service to existing AT&T consumer lines at no charge over the coming months. The announcement is a result of the FCC’s recent declaratory ruling finding that call-blocking tools may be offered by phone service providers on an “opt out” basis. In its declaratory ruling, the FCC also clarified that voice service providers offering opt-out call-blocking must provide the consumer sufficient information to make an informed choice as to whether they wish to remain in the program or opt out.
“The FCC has been a tremendous partner in the war on robocalls,” said Joan Marsh, executive vice president of regulatory & state external affairs for AT&T Communications. “The Commission’s recent action builds on a years-long effort to enable broader adoption of call-blocking tools and allow providers to better protect their customers and networks. AT&T remains committed to working with our government and industry partners in the ongoing battle against unwanted and illegal robocalls.”
More details on AT&T’s service are expected to become available in the coming months. There is room for error in the implementation of such a broad scale program. Clients that find their legitimate calls are being blocked by AT&T (or any other service provider) should contact the firm.
BloostonLaw Contacts: Ben Dickens, John Prendergast and Richard Rubino
FCC Proposes Pilot Program to Facilitate Delivery of Telemedicine in Rural America
The FCC has adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to facilitate the delivery of telemedicine in rural America. Comments will be due on or before August 29, 2019 and reply comments will be due on September 30, 2019.
The FCC has recognized that telemedicine has assumed an increasingly critical role in the delivery of healthcare as both technology and broadband connectivity have improved. Telemedicine allows patients to access healthcare services even when they cannot access the healthcare provider’s physical location, using a broadband Internet connection directly into the patient’s home or other mobile location.
In the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC is proposing to create a Pilot program that would allow it to obtain data concerning connected care services so that it can better understand the relationship of affordable patient broadband Internet access service to the availability of quality health care, the health care cost savings that result from connected care services, and the role of connected care on patient health outcomes. The FCC’s proposal seeks to bring innovative telemedicine technologies to medically underserved populations, including low-income communities and veterans, by allowing health care providers to connect directly with their patients. The FCC has proposed that the Connected Care Pilot program operate as a new program within the Universal Service Fund (USF), which would provide funding to eligible health care providers to defray the qualifying costs of providing connected care services to low-income Americans and veterans. The FCC has indicated that it expects this Pilot program to benefit Americans that are responding to a wide breadth of health challenges, including diabetes management, opioid dependency, high-risk pregnancies, pediatric heart disease, mental health conditions, and cancer. The FCC has stated that the data gathered from the Pilot program will help it understand whether and how USF funds can be used to promote health care provider and consumer adoption and use of connected care services. The data and information collected through this Pilot program might also aid in the consideration of broader reforms—whether statutory changes or updates to rules administered by other agencies—that could support this trend towards connected care.
BloostonLaw Contacts: John Prendergast, Ben Dickens and Mary Sisak
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