FCC Affirms Robocall Blocking By DefaultAt its Open Meeting today, the FCC voted to issue a Declaratory Ruling that affirms that voice service providers may, as the default, block unwanted calls based on reasonable call analytics, as long as their customers are informed and have the opportunity to opt out of the blocking. While many phone companies now offer their customers call blocking tools on an opt-in basis, the Declaratory Ruling clarifies that they can provide them as the default, thus allowing them to protect more consumers from unwanted robocalls and making it more cost-effective to implement call blocking programs. The ruling also clarifies that providers may offer their customers the choice to opt-in to tools that block calls from any number that does not appear on a customer’s contact list or other “white lists.” The white list could be based on the customer’s own contact list, updated automatically as consumers add and remove contacts from their smartphones.
The FCC also adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that proposes requiring voice service providers to implement the SHAKEN/STIR caller ID authentication framework, if major voice service providers fail to do so by the end of this year. It also seeks comment on whether the FCC should create a safe harbor for providers that block calls that are maliciously spoofed so that caller ID cannot be authenticated and that block calls that are “unsigned.”
In response to the FCC’s action, US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Republican Leader Bob Latta (R-OH) released a statement saying: "The scourge of unwanted robocalls is a top frustration we hear about from our constituents back home and from folks across the country. These calls continue to cause significant harm to Americans both personally and professionally. We applaud Chairman Pai and the FCC for acting today to provide new tools to stop unwanted robocalls. Last Congress, as part of RAY BAUM’s Act, we provided the FCC more authority to go after bad actors who abuse us all with their unwanted calls and texts. Now, it is time for Congress to redouble our bipartisan efforts to hang up the phone on spoofed and malicious robocalls once and for all."
The Regulatory Mix Today: FCC Affirms Robocall Blocking By Default, FCC Modernizes Leased Access Rules, FCC Revises Alternative Connect America Model II (A-CAM II) Offers
FCC Modernizes Leased Access Rules
Also at its Open Meeting today, the FCC voted to adopt a Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing its leased access rules. These rules require cable operators to set aside channel capacity for commercial use by unaffiliated video programmers.
The Report and Order vacates the FCC’s 2008 Leased Access Order, which never went into effect due to a judicial stay and the Office of Management and Budget’s disapproval of the associated information collection requirements. The FCC found that vacating burdensome requirements set forth in the 2008 Order as consistent with today’s highly competitive video marketplace. The Report and Order also streamlines the FCC’s existing leased access rules by, for example, eliminating the requirement that cable operators make leased access available on a part-time basis and modifying existing rules to require cable operators, regardless of system size, to respond only to bona fide requests from prospective leased access programmers.
In the Second Further Notice, the FCC seeks comment on a proposal to simplify the leased access rate formula so that rates will be specific to the tier on which the programming is carried.
FCC Revises Alternative Connect America Model II (A-CAM II) Offers
The FCC issued 36 corrected A-CAM II offers to support to rate-of-return carriers that are still receiving legacy support to fund the deployment of voice and broadband-capable networks in their service territories. Most of the corrected offers were issued because the model improperly deemed census blocks ineligible because the carrier’s own facilities (or that of an affiliate) were not properly associated with it on FCC Form 477, making it appear that the census blocks were served by an unsubsidized competitor. To provide carriers sufficient time to evaluate the corrected A-CAM II offers, the FCC extended the deadline for acceptance by 30 days. This extended deadline will apply to all A-CAM II offers, not only the ones corrected today. Accordingly, carriers have until July 17, 2019 to indicate, on a state-by-state basis, whether they elect to receive model-based support. If a carrier affected by one of these corrections has already filed an acceptance, it may withdraw its previous acceptance by the deadline if it chooses.
The Regulatory Mix, Inteserra’s blog of telecom related 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 an Inteserra Briefing.