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.
The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has reminded wireless service providers, including resellers, of their obligation to file their Hearing Aid Compatibility Status Reports on FCC Form 655 on or before January 15, 2014. The window for service providers to file the reports opened on December 16, 2013, and closes on January 15, 2014. Service providers must report all handsets offered, review their filings for accuracy and completeness prior to submission, and correct any errors by the January 15 deadline. The Advisory discusses common filing errors.
The Bureau warned it will continue to take aggressive enforcement action against companies that violate the hearing aid compatibility rules. Violations of handset deployment requirements may result in monetary forfeitures starting at $15,000 per violation; violations of the status reporting and website posting requirements may result in monetary forfeitures starting at $6,000 per violation. In 2013, the FCC proposed more than $1.4 million in penalties for violations of the rules. Since 2007, it has taken enforcement actions totaling more than $4.3 million.
The FCC’s rules require most wireless service providers to offer a minimum number of hearing aid-compatible handset models to make their products accessible to consumers with hearing loss. You can read the Enforcement Advisory here.
Federal Trade Commission
In its biennial report to Congress on the use of the Do Not Call Registry, the FTC reported that, as of September 2013, more than 223 million active numbers were registered for the registry, an increase of more than 5.8 million registrations from the previous fiscal year. Since the FTC began allowing consumers to use their mobile devices to access registry functions, 27% of consumer registrations have been submitted via mobile devices as were 13% of verifications and 7% of consumer complaints.
The FTC also reported that during fiscal year 2013, a total of 2,875 businesses and other entities paid more than $14 million to access the Do Not Call Registry. More than 28,000 other entities were provided access but were exempt from paying fees (because they access five or fewer area codes free of charge or are a charity).
The report also discusses how new technology affects the registry and notes that VoIP, caller ID spoofing, and automated dialing technology have made it easier for individuals and companies who disregard the law to make high volumes of calls at very little cost. This led to an increase in illegal robocalls, which peaked at approximately 200,000 complaints to the FTC per month in the fourth quarter of 2012. To combat the increase in illegal robocalls, the FTC hosted a robocall summit and sponsored a public challenge to develop technological solutions.
The report also discusses how the FTC identifies ported numbers to differentiate them from abandoned or disconnected numbers that should be removed from the registry and ways in which businesses have attempted to use the established business relationship exemption to circumvent the registry, such as by using phone numbers provided by lead generators and utilizing sweepstakes entry forms. Read the report here.