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Court holds that USF funds, administered by a private corporation, are not “federal funds” within meaning of False Claims Act. One weapon in the government’s anti-fraud arsenal – the False Claims Act – will no longer be available to the Feds in their efforts to combat bogus claims made to the Universal Service Fund (USF) if a recent decision out of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit sticks. The USF, of course, is the multi-billion dollar cash reservoir used to subsidize a variety of programs designed to assure that all Americans have affordable access to essential telecommunications services. Created...
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Open Internet comments have passed the seven-figure mark, but one in particular sticks out. Update: Word is that the total number of comments filed in the net neutrality proceeding leapt from around 650,000 the day before the original comment deadline, to more than 1,000,000 by the end of the extended comment period. First, congrats to those of you who guessed right in your office’s over/under on the comment total – but don’t get too cocky. There are still a couple of months’ worth of reply comments yet to show up, so be sure to read the fine print on your internal...
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More developments in the realm of Internet retransmission of OTA signals. Aereo – the gift that keeps on giving, at least when it comes to blogworthy content. As we reported, after it got its clock cleaned at the Supreme Court, Aereo bounced back with Plan B, which amounted to declaring itself (a) a cable system and, thus, (b) eligible for the compulsory copyright license granted to cable systems. But you can’t just say “I’m a cable system” and expect anybody to believe you. So Aereo went ahead with some of the paperwork required of f’real cable operators; among other things, it...
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Uncertainty created by upcoming TV repacking brings call for uniform, blanket extension. If you’re holding onto a construction permit for an unbuilt digital low power television (LPTV) or TV translator station, listen up. The Advanced Television Broadcasting Alliance (ATBA) has asked the FCC for a blanket extension (or rule waiver) – to September 1, 2015 – to complete construction of such stations. And the Media Bureau has now requested comments on ATBA’s proposal (which was filed last February). Although all full power television stations had to convert to digital operation in 2009, in 2011, in 2011 the FCC extended the deadline for...
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Commission invites preliminary comments on 18-month old petition for establishment of new class of FM station. A proposal to shoe-horn in another class of FM station between existing Classes A and C3 has taken a small but at least observable step ahead. We wrote about the proposal back when it first walked in the door at the FCC in January, 2013. Essentially, the idea is that the FM spectrum could be put to more efficient use if a new class of station – proposed ominous name: Class C4 – were to be established with maximum ERP of 12 kW and maximum...
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On the agenda: How to take advantage of the new Top Level Domains now coming available, and how to identify and avoid potential problems As we have advised our readers repeatedly, new generic Top Level Domains are here, NOW, and more are coming online every day. And NOW is the time to learn about them: what they are, how to get them, how you can use them. If you’re looking for an introduction into the brave new world of new gTLDs, here’s your chance. Internet gurus Kathy Kleiman and Kevin Goldberg will be presenting a webinar on Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at...
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Back in April we reported on the adoption of service rules to govern AWS-3 service on 65 MHz of repurposed spectrum, and then last month we noted the publication of the FCC’s action in the Federal Register. As longtime CommLawBlog readers know, Federal Register publication of such things starts the time for filing petitions for reconsideration (which are due within 30 days of publication) and petitions for judicial review (due within 60 days of publication. And sure enough, according to an FCC public notice, two parties have indeed filed for reconsideration. Trimble Navigation Limited and Deere & Company – two members...
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As comments pile up in the Open Internet proceeding, straining the FCC’s systems, a post on the Commission’s blog got us thinking about transparency. On July 14, 2014 – the day before the original deadline for initial comments in the Open Internet (a/k/a Net Neutrality) proceeding – in the spirit of transparency the FCC’s Chief Information Officer took to the Commission’s blog to tout the agency’s ability to track the numbers of comments flooding in over the transom. According to a couple of files linked in his post, the Commission had received nearly 170,000 Net Neutrality comments submitted electronically through ECFS...
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As we reported last week, the FCC is looking into a number of possible changes to the Emergency Alert System (EAS) in the wake of the first-ever nationwide test of the system conducted in November, 2011.  The Commission’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking has now been published in the Federal Register. As a result, we can now report that the deadline for comments is August 14, 2014 and the deadline for reply comments is August 29. Comments and replies can be submitted electronically at this site; use Proceeding No. 04-296.
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Petitions address out-of-band emissions, set-top boxes, and vehicle communications. We reported back in April on rule changes in the 5 GHz unlicensed band. Seven Petitions for Reconsideration recently appeared on public notice. Comments will be due 15 days after the public notice appears in the Federal Register, which will probably happen in late July or early August. Because the comment period will be short, we are giving you a heads-up now so you can begin to prepare your filings. Four of the petitions question the stringent out-of-band emissions limits in the higher-powered 5.8 GHz region of the band. (The former rules had...
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A recent Federal Register notice governed only limited pre-approval marketing. This is to correct our item of a few days ago that wrongly announced the approval of certain new categories of experimental license – obviously a product of wishful thinking. The Federal Register notice we cited there approved only Section 2.803(c)(2), which permits limited marketing of not-yet-approved devices, including evaluation kits, and requires certain information to customers and labeling. Approval of the three new categories of “Program,” “Medical Testing,” and “Compliance Testing” licenses is still probably several months away. We regret the error.
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FCC answers some questions on next phase of CAF, but raises new questions about the CAF Phase II and Mobility Fund Phase II Auctions If we go just by the title of the FCC’s most recent action in the Connect America Fund (CAF) docket, the FCC accomplished quite a bit in one fell swoop. The lengthy (108 pages!) document is entitled “Report and Order, Declaratory Ruling, Order, Memorandum Opinion and Order, Seventh Order on Reconsideration, and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.” Phew! (Let’s just call it the CAF Recon Order for short.) That just about runs the gamut of possible FCC actions, so...
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