The Regulatory Mix, TMI’s daily blog of regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court, issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of a TMI Regulatory Bulletin.
At its December 12, 2013, Open Meeting, the FCC received a presentation from its Technology Transitions Policy Task Force and adopted rules to ensure 911 reliability. Watch for our upcoming TMI Blog for more details.
The FCC also granted a motion for extension of time to file comments in its Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning inmate calling service (ICS) rates. Comments are now due December 20, 2013 and reply comments are due January 13, 2014.
Separately, the FCC released the text of a letter from CTIA announcing that AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless have committed to adopt a set of voluntary industry principles for consumer unlocking of mobile wireless phones and tablets. They will also recommend that these principles be included in the CTIA Consumer Code for Wireless Service (Consumer Code), in accordance with CTIA’s bylaws. Upon adoption, the five providers said they would implement three of these principles within three months and the remainder within 12 months.
The six principles are:
- Disclosure: Each carrier will post on its website its clear concise, and readily accessible policy on postpaid and prepaid mobile wireless device unlocking.
- Postpaid Unlocking Policy: Carriers, upon request, will unlock mobile wireless devices or provide the necessary information to unlock their devices for their customers and former customers in good standing and individual owners of eligible devices after the fulfillment of the applicable postpaid service contract, device financing plan or payment of an applicable early termination fee.
- Prepaid Unlocking Policy: Carriers, upon request, will unlock prepaid mobile wireless devices no later than one year after initial activation, consistent with reasonable time, payment or usage requirements.
- Notice: Carriers that lock devices will clearly notify customers that their devices are eligible for unlocking at the time when their devices are eligible for unlocking or automatically unlock devices remotely when devices are eligible for unlocking, without additional fee. Carriers reserve the right to charge non-customers/non-former-customers a reasonable fee for unlocking requests. Notice to prepaid customers may occur at point of sale, at the time of eligibility, or through a clear and concise statement of the policy on the carrier’s website
- Response Time: Within two business days after receiving a request, carriers will unlock eligible mobile wireless devices or initiate a request to the OEM to unlock the eligible device, or provide an explanation of why the device does not qualify for unlocking, or why the carrier reasonably needs additional time to process the request.
- Deployed Personnel Unlocking Policy: Carriers will unlock mobile wireless devices for deployed military personnel who are customers in good standing upon provision of deployment papers.
FCC Chairman Wheeler had previously called on CTIA to make these changes to its Consumer Code “before the December holiday season.” See The Regulatory Mix dated 11/15/13
The Commission has adopted a staff recommendation that legislative action is needed to expand the scope of entities that are required to collect the South Carolina Dual Party Relay Fund assessment to include wireless providers (including prepaid wireless) and VoIP providers. Currently, only LECs collect the $0.25 monthly surcharge. Staff’s recommendation was made in connection with its concerns over the solvency of the Fund. Staff indicated that the Fund’s budget requirements are not being met because the use of landline phones is declining and estimates indicate that the Fund will be insolvent by 2017 if changes are not made to modernize the funding mechanism to include customers of additional communications providers.