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.
Wireless Roaming Charges
The FCC is seeking comment on a petition filed by NTCH, Inc. asking it to rescind its blanket forbearance of the rate publication requirement for roaming rates offered by CMRS carriers. It also asks the FCC to: (1) amend its rules to delete the CMRS exemption from filing roaming rates, whether for data roaming or voice roaming; (3) adopt a new rule requiring CMRS providers and Commercial Mobile Data Service providers to make their roaming rates publicly and openly available on line for the public to for review so that discriminatory treatment of carriers can be detected; and (4) to prohibit CMRS and Commercial Mobile Data Service providers from entering into or enforcing agreements that prevent disclosure of roaming rates.
This week the FCC assessed over $10 million in fines against three providers accused of cramming. On Monday, the FCC notified Optic Internet Protocol of Roswell, GA of its Apparent Liability for Forfeiture in the amount of $7.62M for allegedly billing customers for unauthorized charges, switching consumers’ long distance telephone services without their authorization, and submitting falsified evidence to government regulatory officials as “proof” of consumers’ authorizations. On Tuesday, it notified Net One International, Inc., a Florida telephone company, of its Apparent Liability For Forfeiture in the amount of $1.6 million for allegedly billing consumers for unauthorized charges and late fees even though the customers had already closed their accounts and paid their final bills. Finally, on Wednesday, the FCC released a Consent Decree with Assist 123, LLC, a Las Vegas, NV telecommunications carrier, that agreed to pay $1.3 million to resolve an FCC investigation into allegations that the company billed wireless telephone consumers for a “Concierge/Directory Assistance” subscription text messaging service, a service that they did not want or authorize.
The FCC announced the selection of the Perkins School for the Blind (Perkins) for certification to participate in the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) for the states of Indiana and Minnesota, effective July 16, 2014. The new selections were made because the entities currently serving those states informed the FCC that they would they be unable to continue to participate in the NDBEDP and would be relinquishing their certifications. See the Regulatory Mix dated 6/6/14. Perkins has been operating NDBEDP programs in 12 other states since July 1, 2012, in Nevada since July 1, 2013, and in Vermont since July 1, 2014. Certification for Perkins will continue for the duration of the NDBEDP pilot program, subject to Perkins’s compliance with the FCC’s program requirements.