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 Briefing.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold an executive session on March 16, 2016, to consider various measures, including the FCC Reauthorization Act of 2016. See the Regulatory Mix dated 3/8/16.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee has scheduled a full committee markup on Monday, March 14, 2016, to consider H.R. 2666, the No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act, that would prevent the FCC from regulating the rates charged for broadband service. See the Regulatory Mix dated 2/12/16.
The FCC issued a $1.6 million monetary forfeiture against Net One International, a Florida-based long distance carrier, for improperly billing consumers for unauthorized charges and fees purportedly in connection with long distance telephone service billing consumers for unauthorized charges and fees (cramming). The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau reviewed over 100 consumer complaints filed with the FCC and the Better Business Bureau. Consumers complained that Net One continued to charge them for services and “late fees” after they had affirmatively cancelled their service and paid all final bills. Net One then refused to let consumers close their accounts until they paid these unauthorized charges and fees. In many cases, consumers contacted Net One repeatedly about the unauthorized billings, but were unable to resolve the issue until after they filed a complaint. The FCC also found that Net One continued to engage in cramming despite repeated warnings from the FCC that such actions violated the law. Net One was assessed the base forfeiture amount of $40,000 for each of the 20 cramming violations. That amount was then upwardly adjusted due to the egregious and repeated nature of Net One’s conduct, to $80,000 for each of the 20 cramming violations, or a total forfeiture of $1.6 million.
March 31, 2016, Open Meeting
The FCC announced the tentative agenda for Its March 31, 2016, Open Meeting. The following three items are on the tentative agenda:
- Expanding Access to Video Programming for Blind or Visually Impaired Americans: A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on proposals to expand the amount of and access to video described programming, for the benefit of consumers who are blind or visually impaired.
- Providing Affordable Broadband for Low-Income Americans: A Third Report and Order, Further Report and Order, and Order on Reconsideration to comprehensively restructure and modernize the Lifeline program to efficiently and effectively connect low-income Americans to broadband, strengthen program oversight and administration, and take additional measures to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse. See our Blog posting titled “FCC To Reboot Lifeline To Include Broadband Services,“ dated 3/8/16 .
- Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband Services. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on a proposed framework for ensuring that consumers have the tools they need to make informed choices about how their data is used and when it is shared by their broadband providers. Watch for our upcoming Blog for more details.