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Drew Svor is a partner in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office and a member of the firm’s TelecomTeam.

Consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge recently filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) challenging a multi-system operator’s (“MSO”) online video service as violative of conditions imposed as part of a 2011 merger and the agency’s Open Internet rules. The service allows the MSO’s customers to stream its licensed video content to computers, tablets, and mobile devices without incurring additional data usage charges.  The MSO maintains the content of this service does not touch the public Internet – and thus is not subject to the Open Internet rules – because it is delivered on the same private, managed network as its cable services.
Continue Reading Patient Zero – Public Knowledge Seeks FCC Review of A New “Zero Rated” Service

Last week, Congress reauthorized the Export-Import Bank of the United States as part of the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act,” a law funding new transportation infrastructure.  The bill was signed into law on Dec. 4.  EXIM Bank has been unable to lend to new projects since its charter expired on June 30 this year.  The FAST Act reauthorizes it for four years – through Sept. 30, 2019 – and enables it to begin lending again.
Continue Reading EXIM Bank Back in Business

Although it could be said that the FCC’s recent focus has been firmly fixed on the future, in particular IP-based communications (see, e.g., high-visibility proceedings involving the Open Internet, possible merger conditions in the Time Warner Cable-Comcast merger, the ongoing TDM to IP transitions, and the $44 billion (and counting) of bidding in the AWS-3 auction), in November the FCC proposed regulations to ensure that the transition to this IP-based world does not betray core values of the Communications Act:  public safety, consumer protection, and competition.[1]
Continue Reading Headin’ Down the Copperhead Road – the FCC Proposes New Rules for Legacy Infrastructure

Courts that have confronted the application of the “prior express consent” requirement of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, see 47 U.S.C. § 227 – a.k.a., the TCPA – have in the main taken their cues from and adhered to the policy set by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) – the federal agency charged with implementing the statute.  Recently, however, two federal district courts departed from the FCC’s guidance and injected new uncertainty into TCPA enforcement and confusion over the process for review of TCPA interpretations.  In Mais v. Gulf Coast Collection Bureau, Inc., and Zyburo v. NCSPlus, Inc., the Southern District of Florida and the Southern District of New York respectively overrode jurisdictional challenges to adopt statutory constructions in conflict with settled FCC policy that the voluntary provision of a telephone number constituted sufficient prior express consent under the TCPA for contacting consumers through prerecorded calls.[1]  These courts declined to follow a 2008 declaratory ruling from the FCC holding that “prior express consent” is manifest where a consumer provided a telephone number as part of a transaction.[2]  Both decisions pose substantial challenges to the FCC’s authority and ability to coordinate national communications policy under the statute that it is charged with administering with the predictable result of creating a cloud of uncertainty for those who must comply with the TCPA across multiple jurisdictions.
Continue Reading The Eleventh Circuit Reaffirms FCC’s Authority To Coordinate National TCPA Policy And Ensure Uniformity Of Enforcement in Mais v. Gulf Coast Collection Bureau

As federal courts continue to grapple with the explosion of litigation brought by plaintiffs under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) is increasingly being called upon to address complex questions arising from the application of this analog statute to the digital world.  The latest example is a brief amicus curiae filed by the FCC in Nigro v. Mercantile Adjustment Bureau, LLC.  In that case, Albert Nigro contacted a power company in New York to discontinue the service of his recently deceased mother-in-law and provided the company with his cell phone number in doing so.  Thereafter, a debt collector (acting on behalf of the power company) called Nigro 72 times over a nine month period to collect on a $67 delinquency that remained on his mother-in-law’s account.
Continue Reading Call Me Maybe?: The New TCPA Position Announced by The Federal Communications Commission in Nigro v. Mercantile Adjustment Bureau

In a highly-anticipated decision, the Supreme Court last week released its decision in ABC v. Aereo, holding that the transmission of over-the-air broadcast signals by Aereo’s tiny antennas constitutes a “public performance” under the federal Copyright Act.[1] Justice Breyer delivered the opinion for a divided Court. Justice Scalia dissented and was joined by Justices Thomas and Alito.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Sides with Broadcasters in Aereo Decision

Following the D.C. Circuit’s decision in Verizon v. FCC, which struck down several key elements of the Federal Communication Commission’s 2010 Open Internet Order, the Commission yesterday released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that initiated a renewed effort to foster and protect an “open” Internet. In what is likely to become a highly-contested proceeding, the FCC is proposing regulations to guard against the “real threat” posed by the power of broadband providers while remaining within the bounds of its authority as recently clarified by the D.C. Circuit.[1]
Continue Reading Once More Unto the Breach: the FCC Calls for Comments on Revamping Net Neutrality Regulations

On April 1, the FCC took steps to remedy a small but growing annoyance of modern life:  poor Wi-Fi connectivity.  Removing restrictions that had been in place to protect the mobile satellite service uplinks of Globalstar, and by unanimous vote, the FCC’s First Report and Order on U-NII will free devices for both (i) outdoor operations; and (ii) operation at higher power levels in the 5.15 – 5.25 GHz band (also called the U-NII-1 band).[1]  The Report and Order also requires manufacturers to take steps to prevent unauthorized software changes to equipment in the U-NII bands, as well as to impose measures protecting weather and other radar systems in the band.
Continue Reading Is Wheeler Gaga for Gigabit? The FCC Liberates 100 MHz of Spectrum for Unlicensed Wi-Fi

As policymakers and regulators struggle to keep pace with corporate deal makers (read Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger and Comcast-Netflix deal) and address the structures undergirding our Nation’s electronic communications laws, no two aspects of that undertaking (with the possible exception of cybersecurity) are more fundamental to economic vitality, competitiveness and “the pursuit of happiness” than spectrum and infrastructure.  Spectrum without the infrastructure – and, conversely, infrastructure without the spectrum – does little good.  We cannot use one without the other; they are two sides of the same coin. And while the focus on spectrum battles at times has been blinding, until recently at least, infrastructure has made few headlines.
Continue Reading Sleeper “Small” Cells: The Battle Over The FCC’s Wireless Infrastructure Proceeding