FCC Launches Mobile Broadband App

Recently sworn in Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler is taking the reins on the FCC’s quest to improve wireless connectivity across the country. A meeting is scheduled for Nov. 14, where FCC representatives will unveil an app that allows users to test their mobile broadband speed on their smartphones. The FCC will use the data to evaluate the connectivity of different carriers. The Android app will be available as early as this spring, though the idea dates back to 2010, when the FCC made the decision to test mobile broadband speeds through crowdsourcing. The original app – the Consumer

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New FCC Regulations Aim to Improve Rural Phone Service

It’s an issue we have been tracking at Schooley Mitchell for some time – call completion failure in rural areas across the United States. This week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took a big step by enacting new regulations addressing the problem of dropped or poor quality long-distance calls. The new rules require telcos to collect and submit data on rural phone call success rates, along with providing perks to companies that choose to improve service. “We’ve heard about calls from doctors to nursing homes not going through, that calls to businesses aren’t getting completed, and that rural consumers are

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FCC Cracks Down on Robocalls

Telemarketing phone calls are annoying. Answering to hear a recorded voice exclaim “You’ve won a free cruise!” can get tiresome. It also eats up call minutes in your wireless plan. Marketers who use these automated calls – most commonly known as robocalls – have recently been given a new set of standards by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The new regulations given to marketing companies will make it so those they are calling have more control over the calls they receive. Prior express written consent from the consumer will be required, and there must be an opportunity for consumers to

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FCC Wants Carriers to Disclose Emergency Outages

Nearly everyone has a cell phone, so it’s not surprising that statistics indicate the majority of 911 emergency calls are made from wireless devices, as opposed to landlines. After a natural disaster, like Hurricane Sandy last year, cell service is crucial. That’s why the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed a rule requiring all carriers to publicly disclose daily reports on cell service outages after a disaster. The new regulations will be a way for consumers to see the wireless performance in emergency situations, along with improving reliability through competition, says the FCC. The rule was proposed on Sept. 26,

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Verizon Challenges FCC Internet Regulation

Verizon is gearing up for a fight, preparing to challenge the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality rules in a Washington, D.C. courtroom. Here’s the back story: In 2010, the FCC issued an order to ensure open access to the Internet. It prevented ISPs from controlling which websites are viewed, and which are not. Otherwise, a company like Verizon might only allow websites that pay to be accessed through its Internet service. Today, Verizon, the biggest U.S. carrier, is arguing Internet businesses are taking up too much bandwidth, relying on Verizon to create a more complex infrastructure to handle the

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Rural Broadband Association backs Resolution 157

The Rural Broadband Association is voicing its support for Senate Resolution 157, which calls for the improvement of telephone service in rural areas across the U.S. The issue of rural call failure is well documented, with residents and businesses alike struggling with poor quality and dropped long-distance calls. Critics say least-call routing is to blame for the failures. “It is time that rural consumers receive the dependable voice communications services that are mandated under law. Too many calls to rural communities have been failing for far too long, and the issue must be escalated and resolved,” said Rural Broadband CEO

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Pressure mounts for action on prison phone rates

Pressure is mounting on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate the cost of prison telephone calls in the United States. The Congressional Black Caucus and private citizens are urging the FCC to take action on the issue. Inmates pay high rates for use of telephones, sometimes up to $16 for a 15 minute state-to-state call. Prisons typically have exclusive deals with carriers to provide service and regularly receive large commissions in return. The FCC has deemed these interstate inmate calling services a government-sponsored monopoly and called for public comment on proposed regulations. The period for feedback ended in April,

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FCC throws out Qwest complaint

The Federal Communications Commission has dismissed a formal complaint filed by Qwest Communications alleging Budget Prepay imposed excessive interstate access services charges on its toll-free traffic. The ruling, issued Tuesday, stated Budget did not violate the Communications Act and its tariff in charging the fees, which originated from a series of 8XX numbers it subscribed to from Qwest. To read the full ruling, click here.

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VoIP providers eye changes to regulations

For the last 10 years, Voice over IP (VoIP) services have exploded in popularity. Every day millions of Americans rely on the service to make the majority of their traditional phone calls. Why are more and more people turning to the Internet-based service? Most will tell you that the lowered cost is the biggest selling point, especially when compared with fees for landline service. And it’s not just the residential sector that’s been affected – more businesses are eying VoIP as a viable alternative. It’s a trend that’s been closely monitored by the Federal Communications Commission, which recently announced it

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FCC workshop on cramming, bill shock this week

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is hosting a workshop on two very important consumer issues Wednesday – bill shock and phone cramming. The event will take place at FCC headquarters in Washington, D.C. from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Members of the public are welcome, and the meeting will also be streamed live at www.fcc.gov/live. “Bill shock is the sudden and unexpected appearance of overage charges on wireless bills. Cramming is the practice of placing unauthorized, misleading or deceptive charges on telephone bills,” states a FCC media release. “The workshop will educate consumers about how to protect themselves from both

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