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Telecom Business Alert – TCPA, Enforcement, 3.65 GHz, $100 M Fine, FirstNet, Vol XII, Issue 25

Date: Jun 22, 2015

FCC Adopts Significant TCPA Declaratory Ruling and Order

At its Open Meeting on June 18, the FCC adopted a significant Declaratory Ruling and Order to clarify aspects of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), namely, the use of autodialers and/or artificial or prerecorded voice messages to send telemarketing and informational calls and texts (“robocalls”).  The Order follows a proposal circulated by FCC Chairman Wheeler last month to address nearly two dozen TCPA petitions filed with the FCC, “close loopholes” in the TCPA, and “crack down” on robocalls.  Among other things, the FCC confirmed that callers must stop robocalls to a number that has been reassigned after one call, consumers will have the right to revoke their consent to receive robocalls at any time, and carriers will be allowed to offer robocall-blocking technologies.  The text of the Order has not yet been released, but it will take effect immediately, and will impact all businesses that use automated technologies, including text messaging, to communicate with consumers.  Please contact Tracy Marshall (marshall@khlaw.com; 202.434.4234) with questions.

Tower Enforcement Public Notice

Last week, the FCC released a Public Notice to remind tower owners to comply with the agency’s antenna structure registration rules.  The Public Notice indicated that the FCC staff is aware of several violations of its tower rules.  The most common violations appear to involve a discrepancy between the registered height or location of a tower and its actual height or location, failing to secure the required Determination of No Hazard from the FAA, failing to notify the FCC within five days of a tower being erected, and incorrect marking/lighting schemes.  This Public Notice could indicate that the Commission will focus more heavily on enforcing its ASR rules in the near future.  Companies that own towers should conduct an audit to confirm tower assets comply with the agency’s rules.  Please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239) with questions.

NTIA 3.5 GHz Report

Last week, NTIA released a Report that included background information on the 3.5 GHz band that aided the FCC in revising its rules governing the 3.65 GHz band.  (Vol XII, Issue 17).  The Report includes information and assumptions NTIA relied upon to generate revised maps of exclusion zones, or areas where the FCC should avoid licensing in the band due to potential interference with incumbent government operations.  The Report indicates that exclusion zones around coastal regions, including the Gulf of Mexico, can be substantially decreased.  Please contact Greg Kunkle (Kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178) with questions. 

FCC Fines AT&T $100 Million

Last week, the FCC issued a Notice of Apparently Liability for Forfeiture and Order (NAL) finding AT&T apparently liable for a fine of $100 for failing to disclose that it slowed the speed of unlimited data plan customers after they hit a specified data threshold during a given billing cycle.  The company offered unlimited data plans starting in June 2007 and adopted a Maximum Bit Rate (MBR) policy in 2011 that capped the maximum throughput that unlimited data plan customers experienced after exceeding an undisclosed data usage threshold during a billing cycle.  After implementing the data usage caps, AT&T allegedly continued to market the plans as “unlimited data” plans.  AT&T’s alleged illegal advertising also is the focus of a pending Federal Trade Commission lawsuit filed late last year.  The case remains pending.  Please contact Doug Jarrett (Jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180) with questions.

FirstNet Update

Last week, FirstNet answered more than 150 questions it received in response to its April draft Request for Proposals.  The draft RFP seeks input on the architecture of FirstNet’s planned 700 MHz broadband network and also aims at ensuring the financial sustainability of the network primarily through the $7 billion Congressional grant and user fees paid for access to excess capacity on the network.  At the same time it released the draft RFP, the FirstNet Board issued a Public Notice seeking further input about the definition of a “public safety entity” under the statute.  Companies that fall within the definition of a “Public Safety Entity” may be eligible for priority access to FirstNet’s nationwide public safety broadband network.  Please contact Al Catalano (catalano@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239) with questions.

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Keller and Heckman LLP's Telecom Business Alert is a complimentary weekly electronic update created by the Telecommunications and the Business Counseling and Transactional practice groups of Keller and Heckman LLP.  All articles, videos, and quotations are on topics of general interest and do not constitute legal advice for particularized facts.  Keller and Heckman LLP's Telecom Business Alert © 2015.  All rights reserved.  Articles may be copied with attribution.  To sign up for our weekly alert, please send us an email at telecomalert@khlaw.com and provide us with your name and email.  Please follow us on twitter at @KHtelecom.