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.
Connect America Fund (CAF) Comparability Benchmarks
The FCC adopted a methodology for calculating reasonable comparability benchmarks for fixed broadband services that must be offered by ETCs under the CAF. The benchmarks vary, depending on the supported service’s download and upload bandwidths and usage allowance. This approach is intended to recognize that ETCs may choose to meet their broadband performance obligation with a service offering that exceeds the minimum requirements in one or more respects. It also is sufficiently flexible to account for any changes the FCC may adopt regarding the required minimum performance characteristics. As proposed (see the Regulatory Mix dated 7/1/14), the FCC will use a weighted linear regression to estimate the mean rate for a specific set of service characteristics and then to add two standard deviations to this mean to determine the benchmark for services meeting those defined service characteristics. The FCC said that since broadband service has multiple characteristics (i.e., download and upload bandwidth, usage allowance) that may affect its price, a regression is the “most straightforward approach to developing an average urban rate that appropriately takes into account those varying service characteristics. We will annually develop an average urban rate through a regression approach, using data collected from the annual survey, and then determine reasonable comparability benchmarks that are two standard deviations above the average.”
Opt-Out Notices For Fax Advertisements
The FCC confirmed that opt-out notices are required on all fax ads. Such notices must conform to the rules adopted in its 2006 Junk Fax Order. The FCC recognized that a number of parties who have sent fax ads with the recipient’s prior express permission may have reasonably been uncertain about whether the requirement for an opt-out notice applied to such “solicited” faxes or erroneously believed that this requirement did not apply to such faxes. Accordingly, the FCC granted retroactive waivers of this requirement to these fax senders to provide them with temporary relief from any past obligation to provide opt-out notices to fax recipients. It also denied several requests for a declaratory ruling that it lacks the statutory authority to require opt-out information on fax ads sent with a consumer’s prior express permission. The FCC provided a six-month window from October 30, 2014, for these waiver recipients to come into full compliance with the opt-out notice requirement. After this date, all waiver recipients must include the opt-out notice in the precise manner required by FCC rules. The waiver applies only to the individual petitioners listed in the Order; however, other, similarly situated parties may also seek waivers.