Federal Communications Commission

FCC Releases Order on the voluntary Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative Framework

In this Order, the Federal Communications Commission addresses proposals raised in its earlier Notice, released in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, designed to address the resiliency of the mobile wireless industry’s communications infrastructure.

The FCC finds that the “Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative Framework” (Framework) -- as submitted by AT&T, CTIA – The Wireless Association (CTIA), Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon -- presents a more appropriate path forward to improving wireless resiliency and provider transparency, and the FCC refrains from adopting further regulations at this time. The FCC finds the voluntary framework to be a reasonable approach to achieving the FCC’s stated goals, including promoting availability of wireless mobile services in the event of natural disasters and other emergencies and increasing provider transparency around wireless resiliency. The FCC also believes the framework will bolster situational awareness for the FCC, consumers, and public officials, and provide a mechanism by which consumers will be able to hold providers accountable for service continuity during disaster-related events.

FCC Commissioner Clyburn Releases Draft #Solutions2020 Action Plan

Federal Communications Commission member is seeking public comment on her #Solutions2020 Call to Action Plan which includes:

  • Comprehensive Reform of Inmate Calling Services
  • Streamlined Access to Lifeline Service
  • Deployment of Next-Generation Communications Services
  • Empowering Communities to Deploy Communications Infrastructure Where the Market has Not
  • Ensuring Tribal Voices are Heard at the FCC
  • Passage of the Making Opportunities for Broadband Investment and Limit Excessive and Needless Obstacles to the Wireless Act, or MOBILE NOW Act
  • Identifying Spectrum Bands Suitable for Unlicensed Use
  • Promoting Efficient and Collaborative Infrastructure Siting Policies
  • Advancing Policies to Promote 5G Deployment in Rural America
  • Promoting Security and Reliability in Communications Networks
  • Enhancing Consumer Protections Expanding Provider Access to the FCC’s Healthcare Connect Fund
  • Adopting a Public Notice to Support Adoption and Accessibility of Broadband-Enabled Health Care Solutions Promoting Remote Patient Monitoring Programs
  • Promoting a More Diverse Media Landscape

Comment is sought by January 11, 2017; a final report will be issues during the first quarter of 2017.

FCC, TIGTA Issue IRS Impersonation Phone Scam Advisory

Telephone fraudsters posing as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents have bilked tens of thousands of American consumers out of millions of dollars. This scam, the largest impersonation scam in the history of the IRS, has cost victims more than $50 million. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) are committed to quashing the scam, prosecuting the individuals behind the scam, and protecting consumers from future fraud and harassment.

Statement of Commissioners Pai and O'Rielly on Protecting Small Businesses

Dec 15, the small business exemption from the Title II Net Neutrality Order’s expanded reporting requirements expired. We worked hard to reach a consensus with our Democratic colleagues that would have prevented the exemption from lapsing. Unfortunately, those efforts did not bear fruit and now thousands of our nation’s smallest and most competitive Internet service providers are worried that they will be subject to unnecessary, onerous, and ill-defined reporting obligations. This was a lost opportunity for the Commission to do the right thing. It also ignores the strong bipartisan support from the House of Representatives, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and the Obama Administration’s own Small Business Administration.

We note the exceptional leadership of Sens Daines (R-MT) and Manchin (D-WV), and House Commerce Chairman Walden (R-OR) on this matter. We appreciate the willingness of two of our colleagues to negotiate in good faith on a compromise. We remain committed to protecting small businesses and their customers from the higher costs and disproportionate impact that would accompany the implementation of these requirements, and we remain hopeful that a consensus exemption can still be achieved at the Commission in the months ahead in addition to reviewing the application of the overall burdens themselves.

FCC Clears Path For Transition From TTY Technology To Real-Time Text

The Federal Communications Commission amended its rules to allow phone companies to replace support for an outdated form of text telephone communications, known as TTY, with support for real-time text, to provide reliable telephone communications for Americans who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or who have a speech disability.

As the nation’s communications networks migrate to IP-based environments, real-time text technology will allow Americans with disabilities to use the same wireless communications devices as their friends, relatives and colleagues, and more seamlessly integrate into tomorrow’s communications networks. Under FCC rules, phone companies and manufacturers are required to support accessible text communications services, which for years have taken the form of TTY services. Under the new rules, carriers and manufacturers will be allowed to use the more advanced and interoperable real-time text technology to meet this obligation.

FCC Chairman Wheeler Announces His Plans To Step Down

Chairman Tom Wheeler, after more three years at the helm of the agency, announced he intends to leave the Federal Communications Commission on January 20, 2017. Chairman Wheeler issued the following statement:

“Serving as F.C.C. Chairman during this period of historic technological change has been the greatest honor of my professional life. I am deeply grateful to the President for giving me this opportunity. I am especially thankful to the talented Commission staff for their service and sacrifice during my tenure. Their achievements have contributed to a thriving communications sector, where robust investment and world-leading innovation continue to drive our economy and meaningful improvements in the lives of the American people. It has been a privilege to work with my fellow Commissioners to help protect consumers, strengthen public safety and cybersecurity, and ensure fast, fair and open networks for all Americans.”

FCC Announces Effective Dates of Broadband Privacy Rules

In this Public Notice, the Wireline Competition Bureau announces the effective dates of certain broadband privacy rules and provides guidance to telecommunications carriers and interconnected VoIP providers on implementation of the requirements adopted in the 2016 Privacy Order. A summary of the 2016 Privacy Order, FCC 16-148, was published in the Federal Register on December 2, 2016. Pursuant to the implementation framework outlined in the 2016 Privacy Order, except for the new data security requirements and certain other provisions subject to Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the provisions adopted in the 2016 Privacy Order will become effective on January 3, 2017. The 2016 Privacy Order provides that the data security obligations (new section 64.2005) will be effective on March 2, 2017.

It also states that the new breach-notification requirements (new section 64.2006) will become effective the later of PRA approval or June 2, 2017 (6 months after Federal Register publication) and the notice and customer approval provisions (new sections 64.2003, 64.2004, and 64.2011(b)) will become effective the later of PRA approval or December 4, 2017 (12 months after Federal Register publication). Pursuant to the 2016 Privacy Order, small providers will have an additional 12 months before the new notice and customer approval rules are effective.

The 12 Days of #PhoneInjustice Redux

You may have caught my tweetstorm over the past few days highlighting several examples of bad practices when it comes to our nation's inmate calling services regime. Sadly, there are many more examples, particularly when it comes to city and county jails where some of the highest intrastate inmate calling rates across the country remain in effect.

Arkansas County, Arkansas, for one, charges almost $25 for a 15 minute call; Clare County, Michigan charges $22.56; and in a Natrona County, Wyoming facility it costs $9.47 to speak to an inmate for 15 minutes. Contrast that with a 15 minute voice call from a mobile provider at $0.28, and you see why families and children of inmates are as captive to the system as their loved ones. Given that the median income of a male inmate before incarceration is $19,650, how do you suppose he (or the family left behind) can be expected to pay a phone bill that is 8800% higher than before he began his sentence? And while voice rates and usage are on the decline for the majority of consumers, charges for inmates continue to rise in most communities.

Despite attempts at reform when the FCC made substantial concessions as it voted to approve rates that far exceeded what the data for over 90% of the providers own unaudited numbers substantiated, Inmate Calling Services (ICS) companies continue to fight to keep their excessive profits flowing. For example, when the Federal Communications Commission’s 2015 Order eliminated all but three ancillary fees (that historically added as much as 40% to the cost of ICS calls), Securus, one of the largest providers of ICS, effectively transferred the now disallowed connection fees into “first minute rates.” On top of that, they lowered the prepaid account maximum deposit, so that the company would be able to continue charging inmates and their families exorbitant rates including when they add money into the inmate's account! No one except an inmate and/or his/her family, pays more for the first minute of a call; no one except an inmate (family) pays a fee in order to PREPAY their telephone bill. No one.

Chairman Wheeler Names Six Members to the Board of Directors of the Universal Service Administrative Company

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler hereby appoints six members to the Board of Directors of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). In a public notice released September 9, 2016, the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) solicited nominations for the Board member positions listed below in accordance with section 54.703(c) of the Commission’s rules. Chairman Wheeler appoints the following persons to the USAC Board of Directors:
Representative for incumbent local exchange carriers (Bell Operating Companies): Joel Lubin, Consultant, AT&T
Representative for libraries that are eligible to receive discounts pursuant to section 54.501 of the Commission’s rules: Robert Bocher, Consultant, Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction
Representative for schools that are eligible to receive discounts pursuant to section 54.501 of the Commission’s rules: Dr. Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director, American Association School Administrators
Representative for state consumer advocates: Cynthia Kinser, Deputy Attorney General, Office of the Tennessee Attorney General
Representative for commercial mobile radio service providers: Matt Gerst, Director for Regulatory Affairs, CTIA
Representative for cable operators: Beth Choroser, Vice President of Regulatory, Comcast Corporation

Remarks of FCC Commissioner Clyburn at NTCA's Telecom Executive Policy Summit

I am honored to be a part of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association’s Telecom Executive Policy Summit and wish to use the time you have generously allotted, to touch on a few topics I know are important to you and your members. First and foremost, rate-of-return reform: where we started from, and where we are going. Second, rural call completion. Third, enabling technology transitions, as we continue to move from a TDM to an IP world. And, I’ll finish with an issue that is both close to my heart and to yours—the interplay between Lifeline and the high-cost programs.