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Telecom Business Alert – Robocalls; $200k Fine for Wi-Fi Routers; Submarine Cable Outage Rules; Hearing Aid Compatibility, Vol XIII, Issue 32

Date: Aug 08, 2016

“Robocalls” From Energy Utilities

Last week, the FCC released a Declaratory Ruling granting a petition by the Edison Electric Institute and American Gas Association regarding the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) .  The ruling confirms that energy utilities may place “robocalls” (calls and texts placed with an autodialer or a prerecorded or artificial voice) regarding matters “closely related to the utility service” to numbers that have been provided by their customers.  The ruling extends to calls concerning service outages, service restoration, meter work, tree trimming and other field work, threatened service curtailment, and potential brown-outs due to heavy energy use.  Callers must still comply with other TCPA requirements, including opt-out requirements and ceasing robocalls to numbers that have been reassigned to new subscribers.  For a detailed summary of the Declaratory Ruling available on the Keller and Heckman LLP website, click here.  For more information, please contact Tracy Marshall (marshall@khlaw.com; 202-434-4234).

$200,000 Fine for Wi-Fi Routers

The FCC announced last week that TP-Link will pay a $200,000 fine and enter into a compliance plan for selling Wi-Fi routers capable of operating at higher power levels that those approved by the Commission.  The Commission stated that Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) Wi-Fi equipment operating in the 5 GHz band must refrain from offering user configurable options that cause operation in violation of the FCC’s rules.  During its investigation, the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) determined that TP-Link’s software installed on its router permitted the user to change the country code for the router, enabling it to operate at higher power than allowed on 5 GHz channels.  For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

Submarine Cable Outage Rules

Last week the FCC adopted Final Rules requiring submarine cable licensees to report service outages (defined as a failure or significant degradation in the performance of a licensee’s cable service regardless of whether traffic can be re-routed) to the FCC through the Network Outage Reporting System (“NORS”).  The FCC also directed the International Bureau to develop and improve interagency coordination processes and best practices for submarine cable deployment activities and permitting.  For more information, please contact Al Catalano (catalano@khlaw.com; 202.434.4207).       

Hearing Aid Compatibility Rules

The FCC issued a Report and Order on Friday that amended its hearing aid compatibility (HAC) rules for wireless handsets by increasing the number of HAC handsets that service providers and manufacturers are required to offer: 66 percent of offered handsets must be compliant following a two-year transition period for manufacturers, and 85 percent of offered handsets must be compliant following a five-year transition period.  Additional compliance time will be allotted for service providers.  For more information, please contact Tim Doughty (doughty@khlaw.com; 202.434.4271).

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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.