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 announced it will invest an additional $2 billion over the next two years to support broadband networks in schools and libraries. This represents a doubling of investment in broadband and will connect 20 million students in at least 15,000 schools to high-speed Internet access. Funding for new investments will come from reprioritizing existing E-Rate funds to focus on high-capacity Internet connectivity, increasing efficiency, and modernizing management of the E-Rate program.
The FCC will also streamline the application process, increase transparency, and provide more assistance to schools and libraries to help them lower the prices they pay. In addition, the FCC will ramp up oversight and enforcement within the program to ensure every dollar that is intended to reach a school or library gets there.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, “This investment is a down-payment on the goal of 99 percent of America’s students having high-speed Internet connections within five years. As we consider long-term improvements to the program, we will take immediate steps to make existing funds go farther, significantly increasing our investment in high-speed Internet to help connect millions of students to the digital age.”
Slamming Consent Decree
The FCC has entered into a Consent Decree with United Telecom, Inc. to terminate the FCC’s investigation into United’s telemarketing and third party verification practices. In December 2012, the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) and proposed a monetary forfeiture of $1,040,000.
Under the Consent Decree, United will make a voluntary contribution to the US Treasury in the amount of $500,000 payable in 18 monthly installments. United also agreed to:
- Appoint a Compliance Officer
- Develop and implement a Compliance Plan to ensure future compliance with the FCC’s slamming rules. The plan must include operating procedures, scripts and training materials for both sales representatives and verifiers; ongoing monitoring; and a sales compliance training program.
- Require that customer service representatives contact complainants within 24 hours of receipt of a complaint and assist the customer in obtaining a full credit or refund.
- Develop and distribute a Customer Service Compliance Manual containing operating procedures to be followed to comply with the FCC’s slamming rules, train Customer Service Representatives on compliance, and retain records concerning slamming complaints for one year and forward them to the FCC.
- Ensure that its billing statements clearly and conspicuously disclose what service the charges are for and include a toll free number for consumers to call.
- Submit seven compliance reports to the FCC during the 36-month term of the decree.