Telecom Alert — FCC Fines CenturyLink, West Safety for 911 Outage; Net Neutrality Petition for Rehearing; AT&T to Pay $60 Million in FTC Settlement; T-Mobile and Sprint Merger FCC Approval Order; Pole Inspection Company Cited by — Vol. XVI, Issue 45

Date: Nov 11, 2019

FCC Fines CenturyLink, West Safety for 911 Outage

Last Monday, the Enforcement Bureau issued fines against CenturyLink and West Safety Communications, Inc. of $400,000 and $175,000, respectively, for a multi-state 911 outage that occurred in August 2018.  The outage was caused by a mistaken switch configuration change, which resulted in a 65-minute outage that led to more than 460,000 calls to 911 going undelivered.  In addition to the fines, both companies committed to a compliance plan.  For more information, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239) or read his detailed commentary on the matter here.

Petition for Rehearing Filed in Net Neutrality Case

The Digital Justice Foundation (DJF) filed a petition for rehearing en banc with the D.C. Circuit seeking review of its decision to uphold the FCC’s reclassification of broadband service and repeal of net neutrality rules (Vol. XVI, Issue 40).  DJF specifically seeks review of the court’s decision to uphold the transparency rule, which requires ISPs to publicly disclose their network management practices.  According to DJF, the transparency rule is arbitrary and capricious.  For more information, please contact Doug Jarrett (jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180) or Tracy Marshall (marshall@khlaw.com; 202.434.4234).  

AT&T to Pay $60 Million in FTC Settlement

AT&T will pay $60 million under a proposed settlement agreement with the FTC to end litigation over allegations that AT&T misled millions of its smartphone customers by charging them for “unlimited” data plans while throttling their data speeds.  The FTC initially filed a complaint against AT&T in 2014, alleging the company failed to adequately disclose that unlimited data customers would have their data speeds throttled after a certain amount of use in a given billing cycle.  Under the settlement, the $60 million will be used to provide partial reimbursements to current and former unlimited data plan customers prior to 2011 that had their data speeds throttled.  AT&T is also prohibited from making any representations about the speed or amount of its data without prominently disclosing any material restrictions.  For more information, please contact Tracy Marshall (marshall@khlaw.com; 202.434.4234).

T-Mobile and Sprint Merger Approval Order Released

The FCC issued an Order last Tuesday officially approving the T-Mobile and Sprint merger (Vol. XVI, Issue 42).  Approval of the transaction is conditioned on T-Mobile and Sprint fulfilling the commitments they made in the deal, which include deploying 5G service to 97 percent of Americans within three years and to 99 percent of Americans within six years.  The Commission also proposed modifications to DISH’s construction deadlines for spectrum it is obtaining under the Order. The remaining hurdle is the pending antitrust action brought by multiple states’ attorney generals. T-Mobile previously stated it will not consummate the merger until this lawsuit is resolved.  For more information, please contact Doug Jarrett (jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180).

Pole Inspection Company Cited by OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a Citation and Notification of Penalty against Smith Mountain Investments, LLC on October 22 for heat stress violations that resulted in the death of an employee.  The worker collapsed, and later died of hyperthermia, after manually shoveling around the circumference of two wooden telephone poles for approximately twelve and a half hours in 74.7-87.8-degree Fahrenheit weather.  According to the citation, Smith Mountain lacked a formal process to allow employees to rest and recover and failed to ensure that an individual with first aid training was present at the jobsite.  Smith Mountain was charged $18,564 for the violations.  For more information, please contact Tom Magee (magee@khlaw.com; 202.434.4128).

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Keller and Heckman LLP's Telecom Business Alert is a complimentary weekly electronic update created by the Telecommunications Practice Group 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 © 2019.  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.