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.
CAF Phase II Challenges
The FCC announced that interested parties will have until August 14, 2014, to file an FCC Form 505 to challenge the inclusion or exclusion of particular census blocks on the list of census blocks that have been deemed initially eligible for Phase II support. Challenges may only be based on the first criterion: whether the block is served by an unsubsidized competitor. Challengers may argue either that census blocks served by an unsubsidized competitor were improperly included on the list, or that census blocks unserved by an unsubsidized competitor that are otherwise eligible were improperly excluded from the list. A map of census blocks that have been deemed initially eligible for Phase II support can be found at http://www.fcc.gov/maps/fcc-connect-america-fund-phase-iiinitial-eligible-areas-map. The Notice provides detailed filing instructions.
The FCC released a report of the potential impact of Chairman Wheeler’s proposal to modernize the federal E-Rate program to meet a pressing demand by the nation’s schools and libraries: robust connectivity to the Internet through Wi-Fi networks. See the Regulatory Mix dated June 23, 2014. The report provides a state-by-state breakdown of the estimated number of additional students, schools, and libraries that would gain E-rate funding needed for Wi-Fi upgrades over the next five years under the proposal by Chairman Wheeler.
Two new FCC blogs also address the E-Rate program.
- The first blog addresses questions the FCC has received about the Chairman’s proposal to modernize the E-Rate program to get Wi-Fi to all schools and libraries. Questions addressed are: (1) Closing the Wi-Fi Gap by connecting all schools and libraries is a laudable goal, but how do the numbers add up over a five-year period? (2) Is anything being done to address non-Wi-Fi connectivity needs in the Chairman’s proposal? (3) What will this plan mean for rural schools and libraries? (4) What will the effect of this plan be on urban districts? And (5) Does the proposal make E-Rate funding more equitable
- The second blog was posted by FCC Chairman Wheeler, who recently visited the Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico. His blog post focuses on the importance of closing the digital gap in rural/remote areas and his proposal to bridge the Wi-Fi gap in rural schools and libraries.
The Federal Trade Commission announced it filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington charging T-Mobile USA, Inc. with cramming. The FTC alleges that T-Mobile made hundreds of millions of dollars by placing charges on mobile phone bills for purported “premium” SMS subscriptions that, in many cases, were bogus charges that were never authorized by its customers. The FTC also alleges that T-Mobile received anywhere from 35 to 40 percent of the total amount charged to consumers for subscriptions for content such as flirting tips, horoscope information, or celebrity gossip that typically cost $9.99 per month. According to the FTC’s complaint, T-Mobile in some cases continued to bill its customers for these services years after becoming aware of signs that the charges were fraudulent.
Separately, the FCC announced it was also investigating complaints that T-Mobile billed its customers for millions of dollars in unauthorized third-party subscriptions and premium text messaging services. The FCC said it would coordinate its investigation with the FTC and use its “independent enforcement authority to ensure a thorough, swift, and just resolution of the numerous complaints against T-Mobile.”