March 24, 2017–Commenters, including wireless carriers, trade groups, corporations, and booster manufacturers, urged the FCC to grant the petition filed in December 2016 by Wilson Electronics LLC to repeal or modify the personal-use restriction on consumer signal boosters (TRDaily, March 3, 2017). They argued that improvements in booster signal technology, the failure of FCC concerns about signal interference to materialize, and the adequacy of existing protections justify elimination of the personal-use restriction.
In 2013, the FCC issued an order with three measures involving consumer signal boosters that were intended to alleviate the commission’s concern that the boosters could interfere with existing wireless networks: (1) a new standard to ensure that new signal booster models were sufficiently designed to avoid network interference, (2) a registration requirement mandating that signal booster users register their boosters with their carriers, and (3) a personal use restriction limiting booster use to individuals in their homes. Wilson’s petition seeks to remove the third measure as unnecessarily restrictive. Continue reading
March 24, 2017–Among the possible “objective criteria” for determining whether a call is likely illegal “to a high degree of certainty” and can be blocked by a provider without violating the FCC’s call completion rules are information obtained through traceback efforts, the FCC said in the text of its notice of proposed rulemaking and notice of inquiry on blocking unlawful robocalls adopted at yesterday’s Commission meeting yesterday (TRDaily, March 23) and released late yesterday. “We ask commenters to submit information on whether some methods more accurately identify illegal calls in comparison to other methods, and whether some methods can identify unwanted calls but are less accurate in identifying illegal calls. Do certain methods work best in combination? Are some methods acceptable when used in the context of an informed consumer choosing to implement call blocking with knowledge of the risks of false positives, but might be less acceptable when used in the context of provider-initiated blocking? What can the Commission do to help providers minimize the possibility for false positives when blocking calls based on such methods?” the FCC asks in the NOI. Continue reading
March 24, 2017–The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a decision today dismissing a petition filed by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners that challenged a 2015 FCC order giving VoIP (voice-over-Internet-protocol) service providers direct access to numbering resources directly from the North American Numbering Plan administrators, rather than through third-party service providers. The court said in its decision today that NARUC had failed “to demonstrate an injury-in-fact, and thus failed to establish Article III standing to challenge” the FCC’s order. “The court lacks jurisdiction and the petition for review is dismissed,” it said.
NARUC argued in “NARUC v FCC” (case 15-1497) that the FCC in its 2015 order had given VoIP service providers the benefits of being telecommunications carriers by giving them direct access to numbering resources without subjecting them to the obligations of telecommunications carriers, including certification and service quality oversight by state utility commissions.
The FCC argued, however, that NARUC’s members are not injured by the numbering policy changes adopted by the order, and if they are injured by the failure to classify VoIP service providers as telecommunications carriers, that is an issue being adjudicated separately. The FCC has not to date classified VoIP providers as either telecom carriers or information service providers. Continue reading
March 23, 2017–The FCC today adopted a report and order and further notice of proposed rulemaking to assist correctional facilities in deploying equipment that targets contraband wireless devices used by inmates. The devices have been increasingly use for criminal activities, including operating drug operations and ordering the murders of people outside of prisons and jails.“ The rules adopted today will simplify the process for CIS [contraband interdiction system] operators to obtain … FCC authorization, allowing for quicker and easier deployment of these systems in correctional facilities,” the FCC said in a news release.
“The rules adopted today will streamline the process so CIS operators can obtain authorizations faster and with fewer filings,” it added. “A CIS operator must have arrangements with every carrier providing service in its area in order for the system to be effective. The rules will require wireless carriers to cooperate with CIS operators and correctional facilities in a timely manner.” Continue reading
March 23, 2017–The FCC today proposed allowing carriers to block “spoofed” calls that appear to be placed from a line for which the subscriber has made a “do-not-originate” request or from numbers that cannot be valid, such as unallocated or unassigned numbers. The proposal would expand on an industry do-not-originate (DNO) trial conducted by the Industry Robocall Strike Force last year (TRDaily, Oct. 26, 2016), in which participating providers, at the request of the Internal Revenue Service, blocked calls that appeared to come from certain IRS phone numbers, leading to a 90% reduction in consumer complaints about IRS scam calls.
In the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) and notice of inquiry (NOI) adopted unanimously today in Consumer and Governmental Affairs docket 17-59, the FCC also sought input on how to address spoofed calls from outside the U.S. and on additional measures for enabling carriers to block illegal robocalls. The NOI asks “how to create a safe harbor for providers from FCC call completion rules when they rely on objective criteria to identify and block calls that are highly likely to be fraudulent,” according to a Commission press release. The NOI also asks about what objective criteria might be used to assess whether a call meets the suggested “highly likely to be fraudulent” standard, Jerusha Burnett, an attorney adviser in the Consumer Policy Division of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, said in presenting the item to the Commissioners at their meeting today. Continue reading
March 23, 2017–The FCC today unanimously authorized eight-month trials using video relay service (VRS) specialists in legal, medical, and computer support terminology when appropriate and using deaf VRS interpreters on calls placed by people with limited signing ability or comprehension, although one Commissioner said he would not support making these changes permanent unless the trials demonstrate improved efficiency and cost-effectiveness. In a report and order, notice of inquiry, further notice of proposed rulemaking (FNPRM), and order adopted in Consumer and Governmental Affairs docket 10-51 and 03-123 at today’s Commission meeting, the FCC also authorized VRS providers to make phone numbers available to hearing individuals who know American Sign Language so they can make direct-dialed video calls with deaf individuals.
It also authorized a pilot program to allow VRS interpreters to do their jobs from home “under strict requirements to maintain call quality and confidentiality,” according to an FCC press release.
“To help consumers compare VRS providers, the report and order requires [reporting of] monthly data on [each provider’s] speed of answer,” Robert Aldrich, a legal adviser in the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, said while presenting the item to the Commissioners. Continue reading
March 22, 2017–The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau today announced that version 3.0 of the Network Outage Reporting System (NORS) is now in operation. “NORS Version 3.0 improvements will enhance the overall security and reliability of NORS and allow future evolutions to better support new analytic methods,” according to a public notice. “The new version of NORS has four interfaces: (1) a web-based interface, (2) a Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) Application Programming Interface (API), (3) a Representational State Transfer (REST) API and (4) an Extensible Markup Language (XML) interface. The SOAP API, REST API and the XML interfaces are intended for use by companies that want to automatically file outage reports.”