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 FCC announced plans to fine Total Call Mobile $51,070, 322 for enrolling tens of thousands of duplicate and ineligible consumers into the Lifeline program. See our Blog “FCC Proposes Record Fine Over Lifeline Program Abuse,” dated 4/11/16. The FCC alleges that since 2014, Total Call has requested and received an estimated $9.7M in improper payments from the Universal Service Fund for duplicate or ineligible consumers, despite repeated and explicit warnings from its own employees.
“We reserve the strongest sanctions for those who defraud or abuse federal programs,” said Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc. “Any waste, fraud, or abuse in the Lifeline program diverts scarce funds from the consumers they are meant to service and undermines the public’s trust in the program and its stewardship.”
Business Data Services (BDS)
In remarks at the INCOMPAS Policy Summit yesterday, Chairman Wheeler discussed the INCOMPAS and Verizon joint letter calling on the FCC to “adopt a new approach to special access regulation.” He said that his own views are in significant accord with that letter. See the Regulatory Mix dated 4/11/16. He said that his goal is for the FCC to adopt the proposed BDS framework in April and that the proceeding be concluded no later than the end of the year. See Chairman Wheeler’s full remarks here. The proposed plan would establish a new competition-triggered deregulation framework for Business Data Services. It would stop the traditional use of tariffs for BDS; discard the traditional classification of “dominant” and “non-dominant” carriers, de-regulate competitive markets that are now subject to price regulations.
The Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts has filed an Emergency Motion to require compliance with Inmate Calling Service (ICS) rate caps. The Motion alleges that the Department of Correction amended contract rates are in violation of the per-minute rate cap on ICS charges established by the Department of Telecommunications and Cable (DTC). The Motion notes that although the rates are in accord with the per-minute rate caps established by the FCC, those “rates have been stayed pending judicial review and even if they were in effect, they would not preempt Massachusetts’ lower rate.”
New legislation expands the state do-not-call list to include cellular phones. The PSC said that consumers will be able to register their cell phones starting July 1, 2016. New registrations completed by July 31, 2016, will become effective on September 1, 2016. Thereafter, consumers who continue receiving telemarketing calls may file a complaint with the PSC in writing, over the telephone, or via the PSC website.
The North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA) has announced (Planning Letter 491) that as of March 31, 2016, there were 349 5XX-NXXs available for assignment. From January 1 through March 31, 2016, NANPA assigned 211 codes. Over that same time period, 13 codes were returned. NANPA said that based upon the available supply of 5XX-NXXs and the forecasted demand, the 5XX-NXX resource is projected to exhaust in the second half of 2016.