FCC Moving Forward With Rural Broadband Improvements

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Connect America program has been given the green light by a federal appeals court to begin funding improvements to rural broadband infrastructure. Instead of covering rural telephone service costs, the $4.5 billion program will now set its sights on high-speed Internet service in high-cost rural areas. The FCC kickstarted the effort in 2011, but phone companies that were enjoying annual subsidies under the program protested and took the matter to court. In its judgement, the appeals court dismissed their complaints, saying the phone companies were “either unpersuasive or barred from judicial review.” Connect America is

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Telemarketing Violations Cost Sprint $7.5 Million

Sprint is about to cough up a whopping $7.5 million in a settlement stemming from its failure to remove customers from phone and text message marketing campaigns. The Do Not Call fine is the largest the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ever handed down, and comes on the heels of a $400,000 penalty levied against the company in 2011 for similar conduct. The FCC says Sprint failed to honor the wishes of customers who asked to opt out of future telemarketing calls. Along with the multi-million dollar fine, Sprint will also have to develop and implement a compliance plan, and

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U.S. Carriers to Offer Text-to-911

Sprint, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile have all committed to the American Text-to-911 program, but it doesn’t mean the service will be active in all areas when it comes into effect May 15. The program is just as it sounds. Instead of calling 911, those who find themselves in an emergency situation will be able to send a text message to 911 instead. However, people should exercise caution before using the service – not all jurisdictions will be able to receive the texts, even if carriers support sending them. Emergency call centers must update technology and train staff for Text-to-911, and

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Kill Switch Coming to Some Smartphones by 2015

A handful of wireless handset makers and service providers have pledged to add a remote kill switch to their devices by 2015 in an attempt to curb theft. Companies such as Apple, Samsung, HTC, Motorola and Google, along with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, have all signed on to CTIA’s Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment program. Under the program, all handsets manufactured after July 2015 will include a “baseline anti-theft tool” that is either preloaded or downloadable. It will only apply to devices sold in the United States. According to CTIA, the anti-theft tool will have the following capabilities: 1. Remote

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Granite Participating in AT&T IP Trials

Granite Telecommunications will participate in AT&T’s upcoming TDM-to-IP trials to determine the impact it will have on its business clients. The competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) expects the trials to paint a picture of how the transition will affect businesses that depend on plain old telephone service to communicate with their customers. The trials will take place in Carbon Hill, Ala. and West Delray Beach, Fla., markets where Granite is the lone competitive carrier. “The presence of Granite in both wire centers that AT&T has proposed for its service-based experiments will provide an opportunity for the (Federal Communications) Commission to

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FCC Pushes for 911-Caller Location Accuracy

After a 911 emergency call is made, every second is vital. That’s why the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is proposing new rules regulating location services for 911 calls, giving operators an increased ability to pinpoint a caller’s location. This would include being able to find the exact floor the caller is located on, not just the building address. Existing rules date back to 1996, and were updated in 2010. Back then, most 911 calls were made from landlines, while today an increasing number are made from wireless phones. In fact, over 70 percent of 911 calls in California are made

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FCC Roped Into Carrier Drama

A spectrum auction is looming and it looks like American carriers are feeling ultra competitive.In fact, a group of carriers recently approached the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), asking for it to restrict participation by Verizon and AT&T. The group of carriers – which consists of Sprint, T-Mobile, C Spire Wireless, The Competitive Carriers Association, The Rural Wireless Association, The New America Foundation, Public Knowledge, the Computer and Communications Industry Association and the Writers Guild of America – recently met with FCC chair Tom Wheeler and other legal advisers to discuss the matter. In the meeting, the group stated that Verizon

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Big $5.23M Fine for Cramming and Slamming

U.S. Telecom Long Distance Inc. (USTLD) may face a hefty fine for allegedly slamming and cramming customers. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the proposed $5.23 million fine earlier this week. Along with charging customers’ long distance carriers without authorization and billing for unauthorized charges, the FCC says USTLD practiced deceptive marketing and did not display telephone charges plainly and clearly, which is against federal law. “Numerous consumers complained that USTLD’s telemarketers had tricked them into believing that the telemarketers were calling on behalf of consumers’ existing long distance providers,” states an FCC press release. “The consumers were then shocked

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Is AT&T’s Sponsored Data Anti-Competitive?

AT&T has recently announced its Sponsored Data Plan, which will allow video content providers subsidize data. It means companies such as Netflix would be able to pay AT&T to allow users to stream its content for free without cutting into their individual monthly data plans. While this may sound great on the surface, some are questioning whether this new plan is a violation of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality policy. One of the main worries is that the plan is only accessible to large companies, leaving small businesses that lack resources at a disadvantage. Simply put, the plan

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FCC Begins Push for IP Network

Gone are the days of circuits and copper wire telephone systems. And that’s why Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chair Tom Wheeler recently announced plans for the American phone system to begin switching over to Internet Protocol on an experimental basis next year. He’s calling it the Fourth Network Revolution. Wheeler and the FCC believe the shift to IP will improve phone quality for Americans across the country. But it’s not without controversy – some have suggested the FCC does not have the right to implement such a huge change nationwide. Since the FCC only has limited control over the Internet,

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