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FCC Raises Definition of Broadband to 25 Mbps, Declares U.S. Broadband Deployment Inadequate

Posted on January 30, 2015

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released its 2015 Broadband Progress Report in which it concludes that broadband is not being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion. This negative finding is based on a new definition of broadband. “Reflecting advances in technology, market offerings by broadband providers and consumer demand, the FCC updated its broadband benchmark speeds to 25 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads.” Broadband was previously defined as Internet access service at speeds of at least 4 Mbps/1 Mbps. Using the FCC’s new definition of broadband, the 2015 Broadband Progress Report shows that 55 million Americans (17 percent of the U.S. population) lack access to broadband. The report shows that 53 percent of all rural Americans lack access to broadband service. It also shows that rural America is underserved at all speeds: 20 percent lack access to service at 4 Mbps/1 Mbps, and 31 percent lack access to 10 Mbps/1 Mbps.

For additional information, please contact Tony Veach.

FCC Adopts Indoor E911 Location Accuracy Rules

Posted on January 29, 2015

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted a Report and Order containing rules governing the level of 911 caller location accuracy that must be provided by wireless carriers for calls made from indoor locations.  Although the text of the Report and Order has not yet been released, the controversial order reportedly contains elements of both the FCC’s original proposal set forth in its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and the “Roadmap” recently presented by the four nationwide wireless carriers and major public safety organizations.  FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai characterized the new rules as “aggressive and achievable.”  A staff presentation at the FCC’s January 29 open meeting indicated that wireless carriers will need to provide either “dispatchable location” or increasingly accurate horizontal and vertical location information over the course of a series of deadlines over the next eight years.  Rural wireless carriers and other non-nationwide wireless carriers will have an extended implementation schedule.

For additional information, please contact Michael Bennet.

AWS-3 Auction Draws to a Historic Close

Posted on January 29, 2015

After two months, 341 rounds, and nearly $44.9 billion of bids, the FCC’s AWS-3 auction (Auction 97) has drawn to a close. In the coming days, the FCC is expected to release its post-auction public notice containing detailed auction results, application and payment deadlines, and winning bidder identities for the 1600+ AWS-3 licenses. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has remarked that Auction 97 has been by far the highest-earning spectrum auction the United States has ever seen. With this auction providing new perspective on the spectrum market, all eyes now turn to the Incentive Auction set for early 2016.

For additional information, please contact Bob Silverman.

Sanders Infrastructure Bill Contains $5 Billion For Broadband Deployment

Posted on January 29, 2015

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, has introduced the “Rebuild America Act of 2015,” a $1 trillion infrastructure-funding bill that includes provisions that make $5 billion available for the deployment of high-speed broadband networks. The bill calls for the appropriation of $2.5 billion in each fiscal year 2015 through 2019 for both the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) and the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). BIP and BTOP were the programs used by the Rural Utilities Service and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, respectively, to distribute funding for broadband that was appropriated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The legislation is cosponsored by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), the Senate Appropriations Committee ranking member.

For additional information, please contact Tony Veach.

Media Bureau Sets May 29 as Pre-Incentive Auction Broadcaster License Deadline

Posted on January 29, 2015

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC or Commission) Media Bureau has designated May 29, 2015 as the pre-Incentive Auction licensing deadline by which full power and Class A facilities must be licensed in order to be eligible for protection in the repacking process that will be part of the Incentive Auction. In its Incentive Auction Report & Order, the Commission determined that all full power and Class A facilities that were licensed as of February 22, 2012 were entitled to mandatory protection.  The Commission also concluded that extending discretionary protection to certain categories of facilities not licensed by the February 22, 2012 date would serve the public interest. These categories include:

  • Full power facilities authorized in outstanding construction permits issued to effectuate a channel substitution for a licensed station;

  • Modified facilities of full power and Class A stations that have been authorized by construction permits; and

  • Class A stations’ initial digital facilities that were not initially licensed until after February 22, 2012.

All facilities in these discretionary protection categories, with limited exceptions, must be licensed or have an application for a license to cover the construction permit on file by May 29, 2015 in order for these facilities to be protected in the repacking process.

For additional information, please contact Erin Fitzgerald.

FTC Report Recommends Security Practices for The Internet of Things

Posted on January 29, 2015

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has released a report on the “Internet of Things” in which FTC staff “recommend[s] a series of concrete steps that businesses can take to enhance and protect consumers’ privacy and security, as Americans start to reap the benefits from a growing world of Internet-connected devices.” As explained by the FTC, the Internet of Things refers to everyday objects that can connect to the Internet and store, send, and receive data, such as health and fitness monitors, home security devices, household appliances, and connected cars. While such connected devices have many beneficial and important uses, FTC staff notes that they “raise numerous privacy and security concerns that could undermine consumer confidence.” To address these concerns, FTC staff makes a number of recommendations in the report related to information security, minimizing collected data, consumer notice and choice, legislation, and ways the FTC can use its existing tools. The scope of the report is limited to connected devices that are sold to or used by consumers. To supplement the report, the FTC released a new publication for businesses containing advice about how to build security into products connected to the Internet of Things (“Careful Connections: Building Security in the Internet of Things”).

For additional information, please contact Tony Veach.

AT&T Changes CAF Phase I Deployment Plans; Existing Providers Have 45 Days to Respond

Posted on January 29, 2015

AT&T Inc. (AT&T) has notified the Federal Communications Commission that it intends to modify its Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase I Round 2 broadband deployment plans. AT&T plans to deploy broadband service to unserved locations in 7,931 newly identified census blocks that were not previously selected as part of its initial support election. Existing providers now have 45 days (until March 16, 2015) to indicate that they offer Internet access service at speeds of 3 Mbps downstream and 768 kbps upstream or higher in any of the newly identified census blocks. A list of the census blocks is available in Microsoft excel format at https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-15-118A2.xlsx.

For additional information, please contact Tony Veach.

Wireless Bureau Sets Deadline for Oppositions to Applications for Review in Data Roaming Proceeding

Posted on January 29, 2015

AT&T and Verizon Wireless have each filed “applications for review” with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) in an attempt to reverse an earlier Declaratory Ruling issued by the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) on December 18, 2014.  The WTB has established a single filing deadline applicable to both applications.  Oppositions to Applications for Review must be filed by February 4, 2015 and Replies must be filed by February 19, 2015.

For additional information, please contact Erin Fitzgerald.

Absolutely No Wi-Fi Blocking, Says FCC in (Literally) Bold Warning

Posted on January 28, 2015

The FCC has issued an Enforcement Advisory emphatically reminding hotels, convention centers and any other commercial establishments that blocking the personal Wi-Fi hotspots of wireless consumers is strictly prohibited. This advisory follows the FCC’s recent enforcement action and $600,000 fine against Marriott for blocking guests’ Wi-Fi hotspots at a Marriott property.  Marriott had also filed a petition to convince the FCC that hotels should be able to block Wi-Fi hotspots in its conference spaces to prevent cyberattacks or service disruptions on the hotel’s own Wi-Fi network, though Marriott later backed off from its position when the petition triggered a backlash of opposition from consumers, Google, Microsoft and others.  Marriott has stated that it will no longer block Wi-Fi hotspots in its properties.

For additional information, please contact Bob Silverman.

ATI Facing $1.6 Million Penalty for Failure to Contribute to USF and Other Programs

Posted on January 27, 2015

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture which proposes a penalty of $1,588,988 against Advanced Tel, Inc. (ATI) for apparent failures to make contributions to a number of federal regulatory programs over several years. ATI is a California-based non-dominant interexchange carrier that has provided interstate, international, and intrastate long distance telecommunications services as a switchless reseller in 25 states since 2002. The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau (Bureau) began investigating ATI in 2008 after receiving a notification from the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) which alleged that ATI had failed to comply with the FCC’s USF contribution rules. The investigation led the Bureau to ultimately determine that, over a span of several years, ATI failed to make required payments to the Universal Service Fund (USF), Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund, and Local Number Portability (LNP) administration, and failed to pay required federal regulatory fees. ATI attempted to make payments toward its outstanding debts (nearly $1.5 million at one point) in order to negotiate a consent decree with the Bureau, but was unable to successfully follow through with this course of action. ATI must pay the full amount of its proposed forfeiture or seek a reduction within 30 calendar days.

For additional information, please contact Tony Veach.