Telecom Business Alert – TCPA Order, TCPA Penalty, Interference Fine, Experimental Radio Service Rules, Power Grid Program, Technology Transitions Proposal, Open Internet Exemption, Vol XII ,Issue 28

Date: Jul 13, 2015

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FCC Releases TCPA Order

The text of the Commission’s highly anticipated Declaratory Ruling and Order (Order) clarifying aspects of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was released and took effect on July 10, 2015.  As we previously reported, the Order follows a proposal by FCC Chairman Wheeler to address nearly two dozen petitions filed with the FCC to “close loopholes” in the TCPA, and “crack down” on the use of autodialers and/or artificial or prerecorded voice messages to send telemarketing and informational calls and texts (robocalls).  Among other things, the Order clarifies the definition of an “autodialer” and provides that (1) where a number has been reassigned to a new subscriber, and a caller makes a “robocall” to such number without knowledge of the reassignment and with a reasonable belief that the caller had consent, the caller must stop “robocalls” to that number after one call; (2) consumers have the right to revoke consent to “robocalls” at any time and through any reasonable means; and (3)carriers will be allowed to offer robocall-blocking technologies.  Please contact Tracy Marshall (marshall@khlaw.com; 202.434.4234) with questions.

TCPA Penalty 

A federal judge ordered Time Warner Cable (TWC) to pay $229,000 for violating the TCPA, which prohibits the use of robocalls without prior express consent.  According to the Order, between July 2013 and August 2014 TWC made over 150 robocalls through its interactive voice response (IVR) system to the plaintiff.  TWC was using its IVR system to reach a third party who was previously assigned the plaintiff’s mobile number.  TWC’s IVR system continued to call the plaintiff even after she notified a TWC representative that she wanted the calls to stop.  Please contact Tracy Marshall (marshall@khlaw.com; 202.434.4234) for additional information.

Interference Fine

Last week, the Commission issued a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) for forfeiture and proposed a $25,000 penalty to Mobile Relay Associates (MRA), the licensee of several trunked private land mobile radio (PLMR) stations, for failing to take certain precautions to prevent harmful interference to another FCC licensee.  .  Two of MRA’s channels are trunked and shared.  Licensees of trunked operations on shared channels are required by FCC rules to monitor their system in order to avoid causing harmful interference to other systems.  The Commission previously notified MRA that it was in violation of the monitoring and sharing requirements, but MRA apparently did not modify its operations.  MRA has 30 days to pay the proposed penalty or request that it be reduced or dismissed.  For additional information, please contact Greg Kunkle (Kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

Experimental Radio Service Rules Modified

Also last week, the Commission released a Memorandum Opinion and Order amending its Experimental Radio Service (ERS) rules.  The Commission permitted conventional ERS licensees and compliance testing licensees to use spectrum allocated for passive services (e.g., radio astronomy and space research services), clarified when cost recovery is permitted under the ERS rules, and explained that Emergency Alert System (EAS) participants fall under the definition of “emergency notification providers.”  Additionally, the Commission released a further notice of proposed rulemaking (FNPRM) to permit experimentation on channels listed in Section 15.205(a) of the Commission’s rules.  Comments and Reply Comments are due 30 and 45 days, respectively, after the FNPRM is published in the Federal Register, which has not yet occurred.  For additional information, please contact Greg Kunkle (Kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

National Power Transformer Reserve Program

Last week, the Department of Energy (DOE) issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking comments on a proposed National Power Transformer Reserve Program.  Specifically, the RFI asks how to mitigate cyber-attacks and physical security intrusions to large power transformers, which can cause significant disruption to the power grid.  The Program is aimed at maintaining large power transformer reserves to address these risks.  Comments must be received by August 24, 2015.  For additional information, please contact Doug Jarrett (Jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180).

Technology Transitions Proposal

FCC Chairman Wheeler released his Technology Transitions Proposal last week.  The Proposal acknowledges that the Commission’s rules have not kept pace with the transition to IP networks and summarizes two proposed Orders that will be considered at the Commission’s Open Meeting on August 6.  The first proposed Report and Order pertains to emergency communications as network operators move from copper-based networks and address concerns over back-up power limitations on IP networks.  The other Report and Order pertains to a plan to ensure competitors have access to replacement services at comparable rates as legacy copper networks are replaced with next-generation networks.  For additional information, please contact   Doug Jarrett (Jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180).

Open Internet Small Business Exemption

The Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau is seeking comment on the small business exemption to the enhanced transparency requirements adopted in the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order.  The transparency requirements require Broadband Internet Access Service providers to publicly disclose certain information pertaining to their network management practices, performance, and service terms.  The Commission temporarily exempted small providers “with 100,000 or fewer broadband” connections, but the Bureau now seeks comment on whether the exemption should be made permanent.  Comments are due August 5th and Reply Comments are due September 4th.  For additional information, please contact Doug Jarrett (Jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180).

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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.