BLOGS: Communications, Tech & Media Review

Tuesday, April 26, 2016, 4:03 PM

Womble Carlyle’s Rebecca Jacobs to Moderate E-Rate Discussion at SHLB Annual Conference

CRYSTAL CITY, VA.—Womble Carlyle attorney Rebecca Jacobs will moderate a panel discussion on “E-rate and Fiber Build-Out” at the 2016 Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB) Annual Conference.
This workshop will give current and future applicants the chance to interact with the key officials from the FCC and USAC. They will discuss how to issue a RFP, how to evaluate competing bids, and how to structure the application to maximize your chance for approval.
Joining Jacobs in the panel discussion will be Keith Krueger, CEO of COSN; Andrew Moore, Boulder Valley (Colo.) School District; and Vincent Scheivert, Albemarle County (Va.) School District.
The 2016 SHLB Annual Conference talks place Apr. 27th-29th in Crystal City.
Rebecca Jacobs has a comprehensive communications law practice, guiding clients in media law, Internet, telecom, cable and privacy/data protection matters.  Jacobs has extensive experience in E-Rate (Universal Service Administration Company Schools and Libraries Program) and Cable Compulsory License matters. She practices in Womble Carlyle’s Washington, D.C. office.

Monday, April 18, 2016, 4:48 PM

Marty Stern To Deliver Keynote At Strategy And The Business Environment Conference

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Telecomm and media regulatory attorney Marty Stern will be a keynote speaker at the 16th Annual Strategy and the Business Environment Conference being held this year at the Simon Business School in Rochester, New York on April 29-30.  Stern will be addressing a number of federal agency initiatives during the final two years of the Obama administration and their impacts on businesses in the telecom and media sectors, with a focus on several actions that some believe have pushed the limits of agency jurisdiction, and regulatory approaches that agencies have used to shape business norms while avoiding meaningful oversight and review.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016, 9:02 PM

FCC Approves Safe Harbor “Labels” for Broadband Provider Service-Related Disclosures

The Commission released a Public Notice this week announcing new broadband labels (fixed broadband label and mobile broadband label) to provide consumers of mobile and fixed broadband Internet service with information about price and performance.  The labels will not be mandatory, but are recommended by the Commission and will serve as a “safe harbor” to meet the requirements of the FCC’s Open Internet transparency rules.  The broadband labels include:

  • Price: Price points, including charges such as overage, equipment, early termination and administrative fees.
  • Data Allowances: including information about additional charges or slowed data speeds resulting from overages.
  • Performance: Broadband speed and other performance metrics.

Providers may choose to begin using the labels at any time.  However, the labels will not officially act as a safe harbor until the Office of Management and Budget gives final approval of the enhancements to the transparency rule adopted in the 2015 Open Internet Order.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016, 4:58 PM

NHTSA Proposed Enforcement Bulletin Targets Software and Connected Car Technologies

By Marty Stern

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) just released a Request for Public Comments on a proposed Enforcement Guidance Bulletin regarding “Safety-Related Defects and Emerging Automotive Technologies” focusing on software and connected car technologies.  Comments are due May 2.

Most notably, the request for comments indicates that software can be classified as motor vehicle equipment under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, which NHTSA administers.  According to the release, “software that enables devices not located in or on the motor vehicle to connect to the motor vehicle or its systems could, in some circumstances” be considered motor vehicle equipment.” 

In addition, the NHTSA indicates that both manufacturers of motor vehicles and suppliers of these “new and emerging vehicle technologies” have an obligation to notify NHTSA of safety-related defects, and are potentially subject to civil penalties for failure to make such notifications.  The release also suggests that software in portable electronic devices “used to affect and control a motor vehicle’s safety systems” is also motor vehicle equipment.   And where such software “has manifested a safety-related performance failure, or otherwise presents an unreasonable risk to safety” it is subject to the agency’s recall authority. 

The release also includes a discussion of the NHTSA’s view of automotive cybersecurity vulnerabilities.  NHTSA indicates that cybersecurity vulnerabilities could be considered a “safety-related defect” where, for example, a “vulnerability in any of a motor vehicle’s entry points (e.g., Wi-Fi, infotainment systems, the OBD-II port) allows remote access to a motor vehicle’s critical safety systems.”  The item notes that in such circumstances, the NHTSA may consider such vulnerability to be safety-related, compelling a recall.

Friday, April 1, 2016, 4:07 PM

There’s No Place Like Home Where the TCPA is Concerned…

…especially when it comes to bringing a lawsuit against a telemarketer for placing a telemarketing call to a residential telephone line using an artificial or prerecorded voice.  On March 31, 2016, the Commission issued a Public Notice seeking comment on a petition for declaratory ruling filed by Todd C. Bank, an attorney who works out of his home and uses his residential phone line for business purposes.  Mr. Bank’s home phone number is listed publicly as both a business and residential number.  He petitioned the Commission to clarify that telephone lines provided as “residential” service by the telephone service provider are subject to 47 C.F.R. § 64.1200(a)(3), which bars telemarketing calls to residential lines using artificial or prerecorded voices without the prior express written consent of the called party.

The Commission now seeks comment on whether it should clarify the statute and rules to: (1) establish a bright-line test that telephone lines provided as “residential” service are subject to 64.1200(a)(3); (2) adopt a different bright-line test to identify residential lines; or (3) define a different method for identifying a residential line.  Comments are due May 2, 2016.  Reply comments on May 17, 2016.

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