May 11, 2012
FCC Releases Small Entity Compliance Guide CoveringNetwork Neutrality Disclosure Requirements
This week, the FCC released a Small Entity Compliance Guide intended to help small entities meet the FCC’s network neutrality disclosure requirements. The small entity compliance guide, together with the FCC’s Advisory Guidance released in June 2011, provide examples of disclosure practices that will satisfy the FCC’s network neutrality disclosure requirements.
Under FCC regulations, broadband Internet service providers (“ISPs”) must prominently disclose information regarding their broadband service characteristics, network performance, network management techniques, and privacy protections on their websites. Broadband ISPs should examine their network management practices and customer disclosures to ensure their disclosures are up to date, and prominently displayed on their websites. In addition, broadband ISPs that have made changes to their acceptable use policies, subscriber agreements, terms of service or privacy policies should review their network neutrality disclosures for the need to make conforming changes. Providers that do not already have network neutrality disclosures and related notices posted prominently on their websites should take steps to post such consumer disclosures as quickly as possible.
FCC Updates Truth-in-Billing Rules to Combat Cramming
On April 27, the FCC released an Order adopting additional rules to help consumers detect and prevent “cramming,” the placement of unauthorized charges on a consumer’s telephone bill.
The new rules require all telecommunications common carriers to place any charges from third parties for non-telecommunications services (including Internet and video services) in a distinct section of the telephone bill separate from all carrier charges. Carriers must separately subtotal each section and clearly and conspicuously display the subtotals on the payment page of paper bills and an equivalent location on electronic bills.
Each telephone bill must also clearly and conspicuously identify any change in service provider. Carriers that allow subscribers to block third-party charges from appearing on telephone bills must clearly and conspicuously notify subscribers of this option at the point of sale, on each telephone bill, and on the carrier’s website.
Rules requiring changes to billing systems will take effect 60 days after publication of the rules in the Federal Register. Rules requiring changes to websites and points of sale operations will take effect 15 days after publication. If you have any questions regarding the Truth-in-Billing rules, please contact James Moskowitz at (202) 872-6881 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Jacob Baldwin at (312) 372-3930 or email@example.com.
Revised Tower Registration Procedures to be Effective Soon
The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau is expected to announce shortly that the Office of Management and Budget has approved the FCC’s new environmental notification process for antenna structure registrations. The Bureau recently released a Public Notice covering the new process, and will host a webinar demonstration of the changes May 21, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EDT.
Under the new procedures, the process for submitting an Antenna Structure Registration (“ASR”) application subject to the environmental notification involves two parts (applicants must continue to obtain FAA clearance as well). The environmental notification process will apply to new tower registrations and most applications requesting a change in height, location, structure, or lighting.
Part One: Applicants must submit a partially completed Form 854 through the online ASR system. Information required includes tower lighting information and the date the applicant requests the FCC to post the proposed registration on its website for comment. After submitting the partially completed Form 854, the applicant must provide local notice of the proposed tower registration by publication in a local newspaper or by other means. Local notice must be completed on or before the date selected for the FCC to publish the proposed registration.
Once the FCC posts the proposed registration on its website, the public will have a 30-day window to post comments and file a request for further environmental review. After approximately 40 days, if no further environmental review is required, applicants may complete part two.
Part Two: Applicants must amend Form 854 to provide the FAA study number and issue date, provide the local notice date, and certify that the tower will have no significant environmental impact. At this point, if the application is complete, the FCC will process it.
In general, FCC regulations require tower owners to notify the FAA and obtain a determination of no hazard to air navigation before registering towers greater than 200 feet in height. If you have any questions regarding antenna structure or the process for registering them with the FCC, please contact Scott Friedman at (312) 372-3930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
FCC Announces July 2, 2012 Deadline to File Annual Reports on High-Cost Support
On May 8, 2012, the FCC issued a Public Notice notifying Eligible Telecommunications Carriers (“ETCs”) that receive high-cost support that reporting requirements for high-cost support required by newly effective FCC rule sections 54.313(a)(2) through (a)(6) and (h) must be filed by July 2, 2012. These reports cover outages, annual unfulfilled service request counts, annual complaint rates, service quality standard and consumer protection compliance certifications, and emergency preparedness certification. Reports must be filed with the FCC, USAC, and the relevant state commissions, relevant authority in a U.S. Territory, or Tribal governments, as appropriate.
If you have any questions regarding these filing requirements, please contact James Moskowitz at (202) 872-6881 or email@example.com.
FCC Launches Rulemaking to Reform USF Contribution Methodology
On April 30, 2012, the FCC released a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) requesting input on how to reform its Universal Service Fund (“USF”) contribution methodology. This proceeding promises to result in sweeping changes to the current USF contribution system and will likely expand the number of services subject to the USF rules. All providers of telecommunications and information services should stay abreast of these developments.
Reforms being considered include:
1) Expanding the contribution obligation to specific additional services, or expanding it to all providers of information or telecommunications services that provide the transmission path to the end user (including CMRS data services and broadband Internet);
2) Moving from a contribution system based on revenues to one based on the number of connections or telephone numbers served, while removing or tightening exceptions for wholesale, international, and de minimis carriers;
3) Making the USF system more transparent to consumers by creating standard disclosure requirements for points of sale and bills; and
4) Improving and streamlining the administration of the USF system.
Under the FCC’s proposals, some services currently exempt from USF contributions may be assessed USF for the first time, including:
- Broadband Internet access
- Wholesale services
- Enterprise Communications Services (dedicated IP, VPN, WAN).
- Text Messaging
- Machine-to-Machine Service Providers (smart meter, smart grid, remote health monitoring, and remote security, etc.).
- Prepaid Calling Card Distributors and Retailers.
- Free or Advertising-Supported Services
- International Only services
- One-Way VoIP (non-interconnected VoIP)
Comments to the NPRM are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Reply comments are due 60 days after publication. The FCC intends to complete this proceeding this year. If you have any questions regarding USF, please contact James Moskowitz at (202) 872-6881 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
FY 2012 Cable Regulatory Fees
The Commission has released its proposed Fiscal Year 2012 Regulatory Fees:
- 2011 cable regulatory fee: $0.95 per subscriber, a $0.02 increase from 2011.
- CARS licenses and permits: $475.00, a $105 increase from 2011.
- Interconnected VoIP regulatory fee: $0.00375 for each dollar of interstate and international telecommunications revenue that a provider reports on its Form 499-A.
Later this summer, the FCC will finalize the fees for FY 2012. If you have any questions about regulatory fee payments, please contact Scott Friedman at (312) 372-3930 or email@example.com.
Please visit our website at http://www.cinnamonmueller.com to learn more about our lawyers and practice. You can reach Cinnamon Mueller at (312) 372-3930. This update is provided by the law firm of Cinnamon Mueller. The document is intended for informational purposes only as a service to clients of Cinnamon Mueller and to the members of the American Cable Association. It is not intended to provide specific legal advice or to substitute obtaining appropriate legal counsel. We encourage you to consult with counsel to address special compliance issues and for assistance in negotiating or handling any such matter referred to in the update.