Telecommunications

Last month, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) raised the fixed broadband speed benchmark from 25/3 megabits per second (“Mbps”) to 100/20 Mbps and concluded that “advanced telecommunications capability is not being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.” As a consequence, the FCC concluded that “section 706 [of the Telecommunications Act of 1996] requires [it] to ‘take immediate action to accelerate deployment of such capability by removing barriers to infrastructure investment and by promoting competition in the telecommunications market.’”Continue Reading FCC Raises Speed Benchmark for Fixed Broadband Services

On March 7, 2024, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced amendments to its Telemarketing Sales Rule (“TSR”) to apply certain of its provisions to business-to-business telemarketing calls, and to broaden its recordkeeping requirements.  The FTC also announced a notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”) that would further extend the TSR to cover inbound telemarketing calls involving technical support services. Continue Reading FTC Amends its Telemarketing Sales Rule; Proposes Additional Changes

On February 15, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) adopted new consent revocation rules for robocalls and robotexts, which the FCC defined as calls made using an “automatic telephone dialing system” or an artificial or prerecorded voice.  Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) and the FCC’s implementing rules, callers and texters must obtain “prior express consent” or “prior express written consent,” depending on the call/text content, from consumers to send such communications absent an applicable exemption. Continue Reading FCC Adopts New TCPA Consent Revocation Rules

This blog post summarizes recent telemarketing developments emerging at the federal level and from Missouri, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

Federal Legislation

On January 29, 2024, Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced H.R. 7116, the “Do Not Disturb Act.”  A press release accompanying the bill’s introduction stated that Congressman Pallone introduced the bill “to protect consumers from the bombardment of dangerous and unwanted calls and texts that have been exacerbated by the Supreme Court’s decision in Facebook, Inc. v. Duguid . . .”  If enacted, the bill would, among other things, do the following:Continue Reading Federal and State Telemarketing Legislative Updates

On January 16, the attorneys general of 25 states – including California, Illinois, and Washington – and the District of Columbia filed reply comments to the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) November Notice of Inquiry on the implications of artificial intelligence (AI) technology for efforts to mitigate robocalls and robotexts. 

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

Continue Reading State Attorneys General to FCC: Subject AI-Generated Voice Calls to TCPA Restrictions

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) announced a deadline of Monday, January 22, 2024 for all holders of international Section 214 authority to respond to a one-time information request concerning their foreign ownership.  Most telecommunications carriers hold international Section 214 authority (i.e., authorization to provide telecommunications services from points in the United States to points abroad), so virtually all carriers should prepare to respond by next month’s deadline.  Financial or strategic investors focused on the telecommunications space should prepare, as well – e.g., private equity funds with investments in telecommunications companies may be asked by these portfolio companies to provide ownership information necessary to comply with the FCC’s reporting requirement by the January 22, 2024 deadline.Continue Reading FCC Sets January 22, 2024 Deadline for All International Section 214 Holders to Provide Updated Foreign Ownership Information

Updated August 8, 2023.  Originally posted May 1, 2023.

Last week, comment deadlines were announced for a Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) that could have significant compliance implications for all holders of international Section 214 authority (i.e., authorization to provide telecommunications services from points in the U.S. to points abroad).  The rule changes on which the FCC seeks comment are far-reaching and, if adopted as written, could result in significant future compliance burdens, both for entities holding international Section 214 authority, as well as the parties holding ownership interests in these entities.  Comments on these rule changes are due Thursday, August 31, with reply comments due October 2.Continue Reading Comments Due August 31 on FCC’s Proposal to Step Up Review of Foreign Ownership in Telecom Carriers and Establish Cybersecurity Requirements

On June 26, 2023, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”) announced how it has allocated funding from the $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (“BEAD”) program to all U.S. States, the District of Columbia, and five territories to deploy affordable, reliable high-speed Internet service.  Marking the occasion in a White House ceremony, President Biden declared that this investment will “connect everyone in America to [affordable] high-speed Internet. . . by 2030.”

By way of background, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (“IIJA”) became law in 2021 and directed NTIA to oversee distribution of the single greatest public investment in broadband in U.S. history.  The cornerstone of that investment is the BEAD program, which we detailed here.  In 2022, the NTIA released its Notice of Funding Opportunity (“NOFO”) for the BEAD program, marking the beginning of the program’s implementation, which we detailed here

According to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, the announced investments will increase competitiveness and spur economic growth by “connecting people to the digital economy, manufacturing fiber-optic cable in America, or creating good paying jobs building Internet infrastructure in the states.”  The NTIA announcement states that BEAD funding will be used to “deploy or upgrade broadband networks to ensure that everyone has access to reliable, affordable, high-speed Internet service.”  After meeting deployment goals, any remaining funds “can be used to pursue eligible access-, adoption-, and equity-related uses.”

The BEAD program is different from past federal broadband investments in that it will be administered by the States, D.C., and the five territories (each referred to as an “Eligible Entity”), with each jurisdiction running its own competitive process for determining the specific projects to be funded.  Under the IIJA, each Eligible Entity will have until the end of this year to submit an “initial proposal,” which will be a detailed roadmap explaining how they intend to run their grant programs in a manner consistent with the requirements of the IIJA and NTIA’s NOFO.  After approval of this initial proposal, an Eligible Entity can request access to at least 20 percent of its allocated funds. Continue Reading Biden Administration Presses Forward with $42.5 Billion Broadband Program

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released a Report and Order, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and Order that seeks “to ensure that video conferencing is accessible to all.”  The action establishes that video conferencing services, including popular platforms used by millions of Americans every day for work, school, healthcare, and more, fall within the definition of “interoperable video conferencing service” set forth in the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (“CVAA”).  It also seeks comment on performance standards for interoperable video conferencing services and proposes to amend the FCC’s telecommunications relay services (“TRS”) rules to facilitate the use of video relay services (“VRS”) in video conferences.  Finally, the FCC granted a partial waiver of the VRS privacy screen rule to allow VRS users participating in a video conference to turn off their cameras when not presenting.  The item garnered unanimous support from the Commission.Continue Reading FCC Updates Rules to “Ensure that Video Conferencing is Accessible to All”