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The CommLaw Group
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News and Information
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Parties Challenge FCC’s Carrier’s Carrier Clarification Order

Global Crossing Bandwidth, Inc. (“Global Crossing”), XO Communications Services, LLC (“XO”),  and TelePacific Communications (“TelePacific”) have each raised challenges to the FCC’s 2012 Wholesaler-Reseller Clarification Order (FCC 12-134), an order that affects the decisions and practices of all companies either purchasing and consuming or purchasing and reselling telecommunications services.  Each challenge raises seemingly simple issues, but if successful could disrupt the FCC’s and USAC’s past enforcement of the carrier’s carrier rule as embodied in the 499 Instructions.  The common theme among each petition is that the FCC has been making what amount to significant substantive rule changes for years without proper notice and an opportunity for affected parties to participate and comment.

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Marashlian & Donahue, LLC Announces Expansion of Information Privacy and Data Security Practice

Marashlian & Donahue, LLC, is pleased to announce that Linda McReynolds, a senior associate with the firm, has achieved recognition as a Certified Information Privacy Professional with a focus on United States ("CIPP/US") private-sector privacy laws and regulations.  In her capacity as a CIPP/US, Ms. McReynolds advises clients concerning the protection, use and transfer of personal information across national boundaries. 

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Proposed USF Contribution Factor for 1st Quarter 2013 is 16.1%

The FCC recently announced that the proposed Federal Universal Service Fund ("USF") contribution factor for the First Quarter of 2013 will be 0.161 or 16.1%.  This amount is a decrease from the Fourth Quarter 2012 contribution factor of 17.4%. Unless otherwise notified by our firm, clients may presume the FCC approved the new rate, and that the new rate will be in effect from January 1, 2013 until March 31, 2013.

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Mobile App Aimed at Kids Goes Offline in Wake of FTC Report

This week the Federal Trade Commission released a report, based on a review of 400 apps for kids, stating that it would begin non-public investigations of the privacy practices of mobile apps aimed at children for possible violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”).  COPPA requires children’s website operators to get parental permission before collecting certain personal information, including phone numbers and addresses, from pre-teen users.  In conducting its review, regulators found that many apps collect this information and more without providing information to parents about what data is collected, how it is used, and who can access the information.

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Comments on Proposed Changes to FCC Form 499s and Instructions Due January 11, 2013

Today, the Wireline Competition Bureau’s (“Bureau”) Public Notice seeking comments on proposed revisions to the annual and quarterly universal service Telecommunications Reporting Worksheets, Forms 499-A and 499-Q respectively, and the accompanying instructions, was published in the Federal Register.  Accordingly, comments will be due on January 11, 2013.  The Bureau has not solicited reply comments. 

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California Attorney General Files Suit Against Delta Airlines for Mobile App Privacy Violations

This week the California Attorney General brought the first enforcement action to test California’s Online Privacy Protection Act.  The complaint against Delta Airlines, Inc. alleges that Delta’s mobile app, “Fly Delta,” fails to comply with the state’s privacy law.  Fly Delta allows users to view flight status and check reservations online.  The complaint alleges that the app collects substantial personally identifiable information, including geo-location, photographs, a user’s full name and email address without a clear privacy notice.  The Attorney General seeks to prevent Delta from distributing its app without a privacy policy.

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DC Circuit Upholds Wireless Data Roaming Rule

This week, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) rule requiring wireless providers to make available data roaming agreements to other providers.  The Court rejected Verizon’s arguments that the FCC does not have authority under Title III of the Communications Act to promulgate the rule and that the rule improperly treats mobile data providers, which the FCC conceded are information services providers, as common carriers.  The Court found that, contrary to Verizon’s claims, the FCC did not rely solely on its authority to act in the public interest, but instead expressly relied on specific delegations of authority in Title III, including its authority to prescribe the nature of service rendered by a licensee or prescribe restrictions or conditions on a licensee and to do so through a rulemaking.  Therefore, the Court concluded the data roaming rule falls well within the FCC’s Title III authority.

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ALERT: Quarterly FCC PIU Officer Certification (for Third Quarter) due by December 31st

The next-scheduled FCC Certification must be filed no later than December 31st. This FCC Certification covers the Third Quarter of this year (July 1st - September 30th). Pursuant to Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") regulations, all prepaid calling card providers must file quarterly Certifications with the FCC ("FCC Certification") attesting to compliance with specific percentage of interstate usage ("PIU") reporting and Universal Service Fund ("USF") requirements.

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FCC Orders Streamlining of International Settlements Policy

On November 29, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) adopted an Order streamlining international telephony rules by eliminating regulatory requirements related to the Commission’s International Settlements Policy (“ISP”) and adopting a modified version for Cuba, the only country appearing on the Commission’s “Exclusion List” identifying countries and facilities not covered by the grant of global Section 214 authority under the FCC’s rules. 

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FCC Issues Declaratory Ruling Clarifying Lawful Use of Confirmatory Text Message Marketing

Earlier today, the FCC released a declaratory ruling holding companies can send confirming text messages to consumers who have opted out of further messages, under specific conditions.  The FCC's Declaratory Ruling granted a request by SoundBite Communications, Inc. and confirms that sending a one-time text message confirming a consumer’s request that no further text messages be sent does not violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) or the Commission’s rules as long as the confirmation text has the specific characteristics described in the petition.  According to the FCC, its ruling will allow organizations that send text messages to consumers from whom they have obtained prior express consent to continue the practice of sending a final, one-time text to confirm receipt of a consumer’s opt-out request—a widespread practice among businesses, non-profit organizations, and governmental entities, which many parties in this proceeding, including a consumer group, assert is good consumer policy.

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FCC Solicits Comments on Changes to Form 499 and Associated Instructions

On November 23, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) Wireline Competition Bureau (“Bureau”) released a notification soliciting comment proposed changes to the 2013 FCC Form 499-A, the FCC Form 499-Q, the accompanying instructions.  This marks the first time in the history of the Universal Service Fund program that the FCC has adhered to the Administrative Procedures Act by soliciting Comments from the industry prior to implementing a Form 499 and its Instructions.  

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FCC Clarifies Wholesaler–Reseller USF Exemption Procedures and Requirements

IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION OF RULES GOVERNING WHOLESALERS AND RESELLERS OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS ANNOUNCED BY FCCYOUR IMMEDIATE ATTENTION IS REQUESTED; MATERIAL ACTIONS MAY BE REQUIRED TO ENSURE COMPLIANCE AND AVOID EXPOSURE TO LIABILITIES

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) released an Order clarifying wholesalers’ responsibilities under the Carrier’s Carrier Rule (“CCR”).  The CCR requires a wholesale provider to treat the revenues of a reseller customer as USF assessable end-user revenues unless the wholesaler reasonably expects that the reseller contributes directly to the Fund.  The FCC clarified that under the CCR, to classify revenues from wholesale services as carrier’s carrier revenues exempt from USF contributions, the wholesale provider must either have “affirmative knowledge” or a “reasonable expectation” that its customer is itself contributing to the Fund on revenues derived from those purchased wholesale services.

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FCC Seeks Comment on Hearing Aid Compatibility Regulations

On November 1, 2012 the FCC issued a Public Notice seeking to update its record on the effectiveness of hearing aid compatibility rules applicable to digital wireless services and handsets.  The Commission needs to refresh the record in light of market, technical and regulatory developments that have taken place in the nearly two years since it initiated its comprehensive review of the HAC rules.  The current inquiry falls into two broad categories:  first, the FCC is seeking to update the record on the adequacy of technical standards for evaluating the hearing aid compatibility wireless handsets; second, the Commission seeks “specific, quantifiable” information about the costs and burdens of the current reporting and enforcement regime, particularly the burdens imposed on smaller providers.

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FCC’s Interconnected VoIP Outage Reporting Requirements Effective December 16, 2012

On October 17, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) published a notice announcing final Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) approval and the December 16, 2012 effective date of interconnected VoIP outage reporting requirements.   As noted in our February 16, 2012 Client Advisory, the FCC initially approved rules extending its existing outage reporting requirements to interconnected VoIP providers in February, subject to OMB review.

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FCC Denies Appeal of Late Fees for Missed USAC Invoices due to Failure to Update Billing Address

On October 16, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) Wireline Competition Bureau (“Bureau”) released an Order denying Bestel’s Request for Review of a Universal Service Administrative Company (“USAC”) decision upholding late fees assessed for failure to make timely Universal Service Fund (“USF”) contribution payments.  Bestel became a direct contributor to the USF in 2010.  Bestel relocated to Mexico City and updated its corporate address via its 2010 Form 499-A.  It neglected, however, to update its billing address.

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The CommLaw Group and TaxConnex Present Educational Webinar on behalf of Cloud Communications Alliance

Leading telecom tax and regulatory firms, TaxConnex, and The CommLaw Group, recently presented to members of the Cloud Communications Alliance (CCA).  The presentation focused on the tax and regulatory hurdles facing Cloud Communications service providers and presented a how-to guide for managing their complexities.

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California Adopts Law Banning Regulation of VoIP Unless Authorized by Feds

This past Friday, California Governor Jerry Brown approved a ban on state VoIP regulation (SB-1161).  The legislation would prohibit the California Public Utilities Commission (CAPUC) or any other California state agency from regulating VoIP and IP-enabled services until the year 2020 without a federal mandate.   

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FCC Form 499–Q (3rd Quarter) Is Due November 1st
The deadline for filing FCC Form 499-Q with the Universal Service Administrative Company ("USAC") for the Third Quarter is November 1st. All non de minimis providers of telecommunications services and interconnected VoIP services are required to complete Form 499-Q and report actual revenue data for the Third Quarter of this year (July 1st - September 30th) and projected revenue for the First Quarter of next year  (January 1st - March 31st).
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CLEC Agrees to Pay $65,000 to Resolve FCC Investigation into its Refusal to Port Telephone Number

Earlier today, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau released a Consent Decree resolving an investigation into Ohio-based CLEC, Communication Options, Inc.'s ("COI"), compliance with the Commission's Local Number Portability rules.  COI agreed to pay $65,000 and enter into a compliance plan. 

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Seasoned Professional Joins The Commpliance Group; Growth in Outsourced Compliance Demand Continues to Surge

Marashlian & Donahue, LLC, The CommLaw Group, recently welcomed Ronald E. Quirk, Jr. to The Commpliance Group, its affiliated regulatory consulting and outsourced compliance services division. Ron is a seasoned telecommunications law and consulting services professional, bringing with him a wealth of experience in diverse areas.  

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Proposed USF Contribution Factor for 4th Quarter 2012 is 17.4%

The FCC recently announced that the proposed Federal Universal Service Fund ("USF") contribution factor for the Fourth Quarter of 2012 will be 0.174 or 17.4%.  This amount is an increase from the Third Quarter 2012 contribution factor of 15.7%.

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Quarterly FCC PIU Officer Certification (for Second Quarter) due by September 30th
The next-scheduled FCC Certification must be filed no later than September 30th. This FCC Certification covers the Second Quarter of this year (April 1st – June 30th). Pursuant to Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) regulations, all prepaid calling card providers must file quarterly Certifications with the FCC (“FCC Certification”) attesting to compliance with specific percentage of interstate usage (“PIU”) reporting and Universal Service Fund (“USF”) requirements.
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SALES TAX AND GOVERNMENT FEE ISSUES FOR M&As INVOLVING CLOUD COMPUTING & COMMUNICATIONS

The following is a recently published Article on the relationship between sales and communications tax compliance and Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) in the Cloud Computing and Communications sectors.  The Firm is sharing this Article with Clients for informational purposes.

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Marashlian & Donahue Litigation Practice – The Best Kept Secret in Washington, D.C. –Attorney Advertisement
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FCC Poised to Act on Long–Pending Appeals of USF–Related Matters

It appears the FCC may finally be prepared to issue orders on several long-pending USF appeals that could have a significant, immediate impact on the industry.  However, based on discussions several parties have held with the Chairman and Commissioner’s offices over the last week, the FCC’s decisions may increase the complexity of USF compliance and solidify inequities in USAC’s current policy. 

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The Due Date for the FY 2012 FCC Regulatory Assessment Fee is September 13th

The deadline for payment of the annual FCC regulatory fee for FY 2012 is September 13th. All entities which possess an FCC license must pay the annual regulatory fee by this date or face severe late penalties and possible enforcement action.

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FCC Form 477, Broadband and Telephone Competition Report, is due September 1st

The deadline for filing FCC Form 477, the Broadband and Telephone Competition Report, is September 1st. As the FCC pursues implementation of a national broadband plan, data collection through Form 477 will play a significant role for years to come. As such, we anticipate aggressive FCC enforcement of this deadline. All clients providing wireline and wireless broadband internet access, local exchange, and interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) services must file Form 477. There are no regulatory exceptions or de minimis qualifications associated with this filing. Therefore, all clients providing any of the aforementioned services to consumers in the U.S. must file Form 477 with the FCC.

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FCC Finds VoIP Reseller Responsible for Underlying Provider’s Failure to Provide E911 Service

In two recent Forfeiture Orders issued to Cardinal Broadband, LLC (“Cardinal”), the FCC clarified that a reseller of Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) service is subject to the FCC’s VoIP E911 requirements as a “provider of I-VoIP” services.  The FCC held that the fact Cardinal relied on its underlying VoIP supplier to provide certain services, including E911, does not preclude Cardinal from being deemed “a provider of interconnected VoIP services” because the FCC does not distinguish between whether a party “own[s] and operate[s] their own facilities, services, or networks” or “outsource[s] some or all of those functions to others.”  The FCC therefore found that, as an I-VoIP provider, Cardinal was required to provide E911 service to its customers and failed to do so.

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D.C. Circuit Appeals Court Upholds FCC Decision to Allocate Reclaimed USF Funds to Support Broadband

On Friday, July 13th, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit released a decision upholding the Federal Communications Commission's decision to earmark reclaimed Universal Service fund money towards support for universal broadband through the newly created Connect America Fund.  The reclaimed monies were primarily recovered from wireless carriers.  The Rural Cellular Association and the Universal Service for America Coalition had challenged the FCC's order.

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FCC International Traffic Report due July 31st

The deadline to file International Traffic Reports with the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) is July 31st.

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FCC Form 499–Q (2nd Quarter) Is Due August 1st

The deadline for filing FCC Form 499-Q with the Universal Service Administrative Company ("USAC") for the Second Quarter is August 1st

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Petitions for Review of USAC Audits Highlight Industry’s Hobson’s Choice

Two recent Petitions for Review of USAC contributor audit findings further illuminate the critical importance of jurisdictional revenue allocation practices, policies and documentation thereof in relation to FCC Form 499 revenue reporting.  The Petitions also reinforce the widely-held perception that USAC auditors are myopically and, at times, unjustifiably focused on reaching determinations which result in revenue reclassifications with upward adjustments to contribution obligations as the outcome. 

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FCC Proposes $1.75 Million Forfeiture Against Telseven, LLC and its Sole Shareholder
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FCC Proposes $1.75 Million Forfeiture Against Telseven, LLC and its Sole Shareholder

The FCC released a Notice of Apparent Liability (“NAL”) yesterday against Telseven, LLC, a provider of interstate telecommunications services that is currently in bankruptcy.  The Commission proposed a $1.75 Million forfeiture against Telseven and its sole officer and director in his personal capacity. 

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Proposed USF Contribution Factor for 3rd Quarter 2012 is 15.7%

The FCC recently announced that the proposed Federal Universal Service Fund ("USF") contribution factor for the Third Quarter of 2012 will be 0.157 or 15.7%.  This amount is a decrease from the Second Quarter 2012 contribution factor of 17.4%.

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FCC Sets July 9th Deadline for Filing Comments in USF Contribution Reform Proceeding

As our firm recently advised, on April 30, 2012, a unanimous Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released its anticipated Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“FNPRM”) seeking comment on reforming the Universal Service Fund (“USF”) contribution system in an effort to reduce disputes, simplify compliance, and promote competition.  The FNPRM includes a number of proposals and issues that stand to have a significant impact on a variety of industry segments.  

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California Legislature Votes to Limit State Regulation of VoIP Services

The California Senate recently voted to advance industry-backed legislation that limits further regulation of VoIP services by the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) and other state regulatory agencies.  Senate Bill 1161 will preempt the CPUC and other state regulatory agencies from expanding regulations over VoIP-enabled voice and data services unless expressly authorized by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) or the state Legislature. 

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FCC Announces Proposed NANP Contribution Factor of 0.0000254

The FCC recently announced a proposed contribution factor of 0.0000254 (0.00254%) for the North American Numbering Plan (“NANP”) for the fiscal year beginning July 1st.  The proposed NANP contribution factor reflects an increase from last year's contribution factor of 0.000022.

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FCC Solicits Comment on Proposed TRS Rate of 1.053%

The FCC recently solicited comments on the Rolka Loube Saltzer Associates (RLSA) annual payment formula and fund size estimate for the Interstate Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund. This year RSLA recommends that the FCC adopt a TRS contribution factor of 0.01053 (1.053%). Last year's TRS contribution factor was 0.01056 (1.056%).

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FCC Addresses VoIP Cramming in Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) issued a Further Notice of Proposed rulemaking (“FNPRM”) requesting comment on developments of cramming for VoIP customers.

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Comments Sought on Sprint Petition re: Application of Originating Access Charges to VoIP

Today, the FCC issued a Public Notice seeking comments on Sprint’s Petition for Declaratory Ruling concerning the applicability of CenturyLink’s tariffed access rates for VoIP-originated traffic.  While Sprint filed the petition in response to a referral from the US District Court considering a dispute between Sprint and CenturyLink, the FCC’s decision could  affect the treatment of all VoIP-originated traffic prior to December 29, 2011.

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Text of USF Contribution Reform Rulemaking Now Available

The Federal Communications Commission released the full text of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on comprehensive Universal Service Fund contribution reform.  Our Firm is in the process of digesting the 140-page NPRM.

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CALEA Compliance Webinar Recording Now Available
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FCC Opens Rulemaking Proceeding to Consider Reforming USF Contribution System

In a unanimous vote, the Federal Communication Commission (“FCC”) earlier today approved a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“FNPRM”) seeking Comment on reforming the Universal Service Fund contribution system in an effort to reduce disputes, simplify compliance, and promote competition.

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Comprehensive USF Contribution Reform Rulemaking Set for Late April Vote by FCC

The Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") schedules consideration of a Universal Service Fund Contributions Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at its monthly Open Meeting, set for April 27, 2012.  The FCC will consider a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on proposals to reform and modernize how Universal Service Fund contributions are assessed and recovered.  

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PaeTec Appeals USAC Revenue Reclassification Decision; Carrier’s Carrier Rule Challenged

On April 3, 2012, PaeTec Communications, Inc. (“PaeTec”) filed a petition for review with the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) requesting the reversal of a revenue reclassification decision made in a recent USAC audit.  PaeTec disputes USAC’s finding that a large portion of its private line service revenue in 2008 should be classified as interstate telecommunications revenue.  PaeTec had classified 100 percent of its private line revenue as intrastate, of which USAC then reclassified in its audit as over 67 percent interstate. 

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USTelecom Highly Critical of FCC in Calling for Universal Service Contribution System Overhaul

On March 29, 2012, USTelecom, the trade association representing AT&T, Verizon and other incumbent carriers, filed a sharply-worded ex parte letter with the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”).  In it, USTelecom  implored the FCC to fix the broken system for determining Universal Service Fund (“USF”) contributions. 

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Join Us at TeleStrategies 2012 Communications Tax Seminar in Orlando

You are cordially invited to join The CommLaw Group and The Commpliance Group at the TeleStrategies Communications Taxation 2012 seminar being held in Orlando, Florida at the Peabody Hotel from May 16th –18th. 

Learn about our “Cloud Commpliance Solution” in the Exhibit Hall and meet with several of our professionals following their General Session presentation on advanced FCC revenue reporting issues, strategies and opportunities, described below: 

Advanced FCC Revenue Reporting: Misperceptions, Mistakes & Missed Opportunities

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Federal Trade Commission Releases Final Report on Online Consumer Privacy; Calls on Congress to Act

In a final report released earlier today, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) called upon businesses to step up their efforts to protect consumer privacy; yet the FTC is not holding its breath hoping private enterprises will heed its requests without Congressional action.  Which is why the FTC is also asking Congress to pass legislation to better protect consumers' digital data from being misused or shared without their knowledge.  

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Proposed USF Contribution Factor for 2nd Quarter 2012 is 17.4%

The FCC recently announced that the proposed Federal Universal Service Fund ("USF") contribution factor for the Second Quarter of 2012 will be 0.174 or 17.4%.  This amount is a slight decrease from the First Quarter 2012 contribution factor of 17.9%.

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FREE CALEA COMPLIANCE WEBINAR: Registration Now Open

The CommLaw Group will host a free, 30-minute webinar covering important developments related to CALEA enforcement on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 at 1:00 PM EST. Gain valuable insight from the industry insiders and former law enforcement officials at Subsentio, a nationally-recognized CALEA compliance firm and Trusted Third Party. 

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REGISTRATION NOW OPEN FOR FREE WEBINAR ON CALEA ENFORCEMENT
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Wisconsin Limits USF Contributions to Voice Communications Revenue
The Wisconsin Public Service Commission (“PSC”) recently implemented the state’s Act 22 for purposes of assessing the revenue base for state USF contributions.  Act 22 amended the definition of “telecommunications service” to include only voice communications offerings and not any non-voice data or information service offerings.  According to the Wisconsin PSC, only revenues from voice communications service will now be subject to state USF assessments.
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Canada Imposes 911 Service Requirement on All Local VoIP Providers

On March 7, 2012, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (“CRTC”) issued a decision mandating that all service contracts, both existing and prospective, between a Canadian carrier and a local VoIP service provider include the provision that the local VoIP provider and any of its subordinate wholesale customers comply with Canada’s 911 service obligations.  In the past, subordinate resellers of local VoIP service who did not contract with underlying carriers had been able to avoid 911 service obligations.  Such obligations include informing consumers about any limitations of 911 service from VoIP home phones during power outages and about any inadequacies of 911 service when using nomadic VoIP.  Failure to comply with 911 service requirements can result in the CRTC ordering an underlying carrier to disconnect its service to noncompliant VoIP providers.  

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FCC Form 499–A due April 1st

The deadline for filing FCC Form 499-A, the annual Universal Service Fund (“USF”) reporting worksheet, is April 1st. All registered interstate telecommunications services providers (“ITSPs”) that hold a 499 Filer ID must file this form with the Universal Service Administrative Company ("USAC") by the deadline.   Except in very limited circumstances, there is no de minimis exception to Form 499-A, as amounts reported on the form are used to calculate contributions to other federal Funds (e.g. TRS, NANP, LNP Funds and the FCC annual regulatory fee).

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Court Declares IDT Liable to AT&T for Access Charges on Local Access Originated Prepaid Calls
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FREE WEBINAR: "Safe Harbor" – How to protect your company from CALEA Enforcement

You are cordially invited to join The CommLaw Group as we host a free, 30-minute webinar covering important developments related to CALEA enforcement.  Gain valuable insight from from the industry insiders and former law enforcement officials at Subsentio, a nationally-recognized CALEA compliance firm and Trusted Third Party.   

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Ad Hoc Coalition Asks FCC to Provide Relief to Carriers Caught in LIRE Trap

On March 7, 2012, the Ad Hoc Coalition of International Telecommunications Companies (“Coalition”) filed an ex parte letter imploring the Federal Communications Commission (“Commission” or “FCC”) to take immediate action to prevent the inequitable and discriminatory  consequences resulting from the Universal Service Administrative Company’s (“USAC”) policy forbidding  de minimis contributors from electing to become direct Universal Service Fund (“USF”) contributors.  As described in the Coalition's letter, FCC rules that are intended to mitigate administrative costs and burdens on USAC and service providers whose USF contributions are de minimis (under $10,000 annually) have been misapplied by USAC.

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FCC Form 499–A due April 1st

The deadline for filing FCC Form 499-A, the annual Universal Service Fund (“USF”) reporting worksheet, is April 1st.All registered interstate telecommunications services providers (“ITSPs”) that hold a 499 Filer ID must file this form with the Universal Service Administrative Company ("USAC") by the deadline.   Except in very limited circumstances, there is no de minimis exception to Form 499-A, as amounts reported on the form are used to calculate contributions to other federal Funds (e.g. TRS, NANP, LNP Funds and the FCC annual regulatory fee).

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Quarterly FCC PIU Officer Certification (for Fourth Quarter) due by March 31st

The next-scheduled FCC PIU Certification must be filed no later than March 31st. This FCC Certification covers the Fourth Quarter of last year (October 1st - December 31st). Pursuant to Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") regulations, all prepaid calling card providers must file quarterly Certifications with the FCC ("FCC Certification") attesting to compliance with specific percentage of interstate usage (“PIU”) reporting and Universal Service Fund ("USF") requirements.

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Industry Representatives Predict Stepped Up FCC Enforcement of CALEA in 2012

Last week, members of our firm attended a program sponsored by the Federal Communications Bar Association (“FCBA”) entitled, “CALEA Enforcement: Don’t Find Out the Hard Way.”  The program was organized by the FCBA’s Homeland Security and Emergency Communications Committee and included several prominent speakers representing both government and private industry views.  The purpose of the program was twofold: First, to update the industry on CALEA developments before Congress, including CALEA enhancements being sought by the U.S. Department of Justice.  Second, to discuss risks associated with non-compliance, including predictions of increased CALEA enforcement by the federal government in 2012, with specific warnings regarding anticipated FCC enforcement. 

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Network Outage Reporting Requirements Extended to Interconnected VoIP

On February 15, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) adopted an order requiring Interconnected VoIP service providers to report significant network outages that meet specific criteria and thresholds. 

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FCC Adopts New Rules for Telemarketing Robocalls

In response to the high volume of complaints over unwanted robocalls, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) on February 15, 2011 issued changes to its rules for autodialed or prerecorded telemarketing calls made to wireline and wireless phones.

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FCC CPNI Certifications due March 1st
Customer Proprietary Network Information (“CPNI”) Certifications must be filed with the FCC by March 1st. Under the FCC’s rules, all providers of telecommunications and interconnected VoIP services must file a CPNI Certification with the FCC which describes, in detail, the policies and procedures a service provider has instituted to safeguard CPNI and any instance of a CPNI-related breach that occurred over the past year.
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FCC Considers Expanding Outage Reporting to I–VoIP and Broadband; Restrictive Robocall Rules also on Tap
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Conferencing Provider Asks FCC to Reverse USAC Refusal to Offset Duplicate USF Contributions

Good faith efforts to comply with the directives of the Universal Service Administrative Company (“USAC”) were punished yet again as disclosed in a recent Petition for Review filed with the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”).  InComm Solutions, Inc. (“InComm”), a provider of call-bridging services, is appealing USAC’s decision to deny its request to offset over $250,000 in USF contribution payments paid by InComm to its supplier, Sprint, during a period in which InComm concedes it was not in compliance with FCC rules requiring call-bridging providers to directly contribute. 

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Providers Urge FCC to Resolve Uncertainties Surrounding Applicability of USF to MPLS Services

On February 6, 2012, representatives of the following Multi-Protocol Label Switching ("MPLS") service providers: Verizon, BT Americas, XO Communications, Orange Business Services and NTT America ("MPLS Providers"), met with staff of the Federal Communications Commission's ("FCC") Wireline Competition Bureau.  At the meeting, the MPLS Providers discussed the urgent need for the FCC to resolve legal uncertainties regarding the applicability of Universal Service Fund fees and requirements to MPLS Services.    

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USAC Prepares to Expand and Intensify Audits of USF Participants

On February 1, 2012, the Universal Service Administrative Company (“USAC”) submitted the federal Universal Service Support Mechanisms fund size and administrative cost projections for the second quarter of calendar year 2012 (2Q2012), in accordance with Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) rules. The 2Q2012 report details steps taken by USAC during the past two years to beef up its audit capabilities, budget and resources in response to FCC directives. On its face, the 2Q2012 report indicates that the industry – both on the USF recipient and contribution side – can expect an active and aggressive year of USAC enforcement ahead.

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Rural Telcos Lobby FCC to Expand Contributor Base as Part of USF Contribution Reform

With last year's reforms to the Intercarrier Compensation regime and Universal Service Fund (“USF”) distribution system, moves which clearly shifted the policy focus from the switched telephone network of today to the Broadband networks of tomorrow, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) now stands poised to tackle the sticky issue of how to pay for these reforms. Although the FCC has yet to announce the much-anticipated USF Contribution Reform Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”), powerful lobbies are already hard at work seeking to influence the Commission; none has been more active than the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (“NTCA”), a trade group representing the interests of rural, independent telephone companies.

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The CommLaw Group to Exhibit at IT EXPO

Representatives of The CommLaw Group and its regulatory compliance consulting and administration affiliate, The Commpliance Group, will be exhibiting at the Internet Telephony Expo (IT EXPO East) in Miami, FL from February 1 – 3. 

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FCC Form 499–Q (4th Quarter) Is Due February 1st
Reminder, the deadline for filing FCC Form 499-Q with the Universal Service Administrative Company ("USAC") for the Fourth Quarter is February 1st. All non de minimis providers of telecommunications services and interconnected VoIP services are required to complete Form 499-Q and report actual revenue data for the Fourth Quarter of the following year (October 1st - December 31st) and projected revenue for the Second Quarter of next year  (April 1st - June 30th).
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Comment Cycle Established for Twenty–First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act FNPRM

On October 7, 2011, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) adopted a Report and Order implementing certain provisions of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (“CVAA”).  The CVAA was enacted to ensure that people with disabilities have access to the modern and innovative communications technologies of the 21st century.  The FCC also released an accompanying Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“FNPRM”) that seeks comment on outstanding issues regarding the implementation of the CVAA. 

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