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.
Notice of Apparent Liability
The FCC found a Florida man apparently liable for a forfeiture of $48,000 for using a cell phone jammer in his car during his daily commute between Seffner and Tampa, Florida. The illegal operation of the jammer apparently continued for up to two years, caused actual interference to cellular service along portions of Interstate 4, and disrupted police and other emergency communications. Due to the nature and extended duration of the violations, the FCC proposed the per violation statutory maximum of $16,000 for each of the offenses—unauthorized operation, use of an illegal device, and causing intentional interference. The man said he had been operating the jammer to keep people from talking on their cell phones while driving.
Cell and other signal jammers operate by transmitting radio signals that overpower, block, or interfere with authorized communications. Federal law prohibits the operation of jamming devices in the United States and its territories.
The FCC waived for one year the requirement that providers of Internet protocol relay service (IP Relay) handle 911 calls initiated by callers who have been registered, but not verified by an IP Relay provider. The action was taken in response to evidence that unverified registrants are using IP Relay to place emergency calls to 911 in an attempt to trick Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) into dispatching emergency services based on false reports of emergency situations. Because these calls at times have required the dispatch of police special weapons and tactical teams (SWAT teams), this mischief has been referred to as “swatting.” These actions have the potential to cause alarm and even danger for the targeted residents and emergency service personnel, in addition to wasting the limited resources of emergency responders. The waiver became effective on April 29, 2014 and will remain in effect for one year to allow the FCC to seek public comment on this matter and take final action on IP Relay registration and verification procedures pursuant to its open rulemaking on IP Relay matters (CG Docket Nos. 12-38 and 03-123).
IP Relay is a form of telecommunications relay service (TRS) in which an individual with a hearing and/or speech disability or who is deaf-blind connects to a communications assistant (CA) using an IP-enabled device via the Internet.
The FCC released the initial agenda and panelist information for the E-rate Modernization Workshop scheduled for May 6, 2014. The Workshop will focus on the important goal of connecting all schools and libraries to high-capacity broadband networks and effective strategies and lessons learned in achieving the goal. The Workshop is open to the public and can be viewed live over the Internet at www.fcc.gov/live on the day of the event. Questions may be submitted by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and/or via Twitter at #ErateModernization. Updates to the agenda and panelist materials will be available on the workshop’s website at http://www.fcc.gov/events/e-rate-modernization-workshop.
The first panel will feature a discussion with education and library leaders focused on the benefits of connecting schools and libraries to high-capacity broadband, with real-world examples of how broadband access is changing the nature of services being provided within schools and libraries. The remainder of the workshop will be a moderated roundtable discussion that covers several topics related to ensuring that schools and libraries have affordable access to 21st Century broadband. Participants will discuss: (1) upgrading local area networks to provide Wi-Fi capable of handling 1:1 initiatives, increases in Wi-Fi demand, strategies for ensuring cost-effective purchasing, and planning for the wireless schools and libraries of the future; and (2) different approaches to providing affordable access to 21st Century broadband, including improving Internet access and wide area network connectivity for school districts and library systems, state research and education networks, regional and state consortium purchasing, and state master contracts.