Reminder: Federal Communications Commission - December 2023/January 2024 Filings

Each month, Kelley Drye’s Communications Group offers this reminder of upcoming filing deadlines that may affect our clients and friends. Please review the deadlines below and contact us if you would like assistance or have any questions.

I. Featured Upcoming Compliance Deadlines
II. Filing Deadlines in Select Rulemakings, Inquiries, and Other Proceedings
III. Select Ongoing Filing Requirements

I. Featured Upcoming Compliance Deadlines

The following are reminders for upcoming Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) reports and compliance requirements:

A. Revisions to November 1, 2023, Form 499-Q Quarterly Telecommunications Reporting Worksheet (due December 15, 2023)

Carriers and providers of interstate and international telecommunications that seek to revise their November 1, 2023, Form 499-Q filing must do so within 45 days of the Form 499-Q filing deadline, i.e., by December 15, 2024.

As a reminder, Form 499-Q filers are required to submit the form electronically through USAC’s E-File system, available at https://​www​.usac​.org/​s​e​r​v​i​c​e​-​p​r​o​v​i​ders/.

B. International Telecommunications Carrier Ownership Information Collection (due January 22, 2024)

The FCC has scheduled, for inclusion in the December 8, 2023 Federal Register, publication of the Order adopted in Dockets IB Docket No. 23-119 (and MD Docket No. 23-134) on April 20, 2023, and the Supplemental Order adopted on August 22, 2023, in the same proceedings, which imposed a one-time ownership-related data request (the Information Collection”) to which all holders of Section 214 authority to provide international telecommunications services (i.e., common carrier services between U.S. and non-U.S. points) (“International 214 Holders”) must respond. This publication announces the deadline for the Information Collection as January 22, 2024 (the Response Deadline”). All International 214 Holders are required to respond, although the Supplemental Order provides a limited streamlining of the extent of ownership information to be provided by certain holders whose foreign ownership has been reviewed by the Executive Branch agencies and approved by the FCC in the three years prior to the Response Deadline. (Please note that even Section 214 international authority holders without reportable foreign ownership must respond to the Information Collection.) The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking associated with the Order includes a proposal to cancel the authorizations of carriers that fail to respond to the Information Collection and to impose forfeitures or other penalties on carriers that respond in an untimely or incomplete manner.

Once the official Federal Register notice issues, we will circulate a copy along with our updated FAQs regarding the Information Collection. Additional information regarding the Information Collection also should be forthcoming from the FCC’s Office of International Affairs (OIA), including specific instructions for the filing of responses. We will post and circulate this information as it emerges. Please feel free to contact one of Kelley Drye’s Communications Group attorneys with any questions regarding the information collection

C. Form 855: Hearing Aid Compatibility Certification (due January 31, 2024)

The annual Form 855 Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC) Certification must be filed by all digital mobile service providers within the scope of FCC Rule 20.19, including mobile virtual network operators (“MVNOs”) and resellers. Among other requirements, filers must:

  • certify whether or not they are in full compliance with Commission hearing aid compatibility rules;
  • explain any instances of noncompliance;
  • provide the percentage of hearing aid compatible (HAC) handsets offered during the time period covered by the certification; and
  • provide a link to the public webpage that lists information on HAC handsets, insofar as required by the rules.

The Form 855 Certification covers the preceding calendar year (January 1, 2023 – December 31, 2023) and is due to the FCC by January 31, 2024. The Form 855 Certification must be completed online and the link to the filing portal and instructions for the form are available here.

Note that providers that are otherwise exempt from HAC rules, pursuant to the de minimis exception of FCC Rule 20.19(e), still are required to file the HAC Certification. Providers may also be subject to website content and record retention requirements and should be sure to review the FCC rules to confirm any HAC compliance obligations.

II. Filing Deadlines in Select Rulemakings, Inquiries, and Other Proceedings

Title II Classification of BIAS. On October 19, 2023, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) in WC Docket No. 23-320, proposing to reestablish the Commission’s authority over broadband internet access service (“BIAS”) by classifying it as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act. Comments are due on December 14, 2023, with reply comments due on January 17, 2024. There is a pending December 1, 2023, request to extend the time to file comments and replies, but interested parties should presume the filing dates are as originally established.

Restoring Internet Freedom (“RIF”) Remand Order. On October 19, 2023, the FCC issued a Public Notice in WC Docket Nos. 17-108, 17-287, and 11-42 requesting comments on four February, 2021, petitions for reconsideration of the 2020 RIF Remand Order, including how the issues currently being addressed in the BIAS Classification proceeding (WC Docket No. 23-320 – see preceding entry) may intersect with the consideration of these petitions. Comments are due on December 14, 2023, with reply comments due on January 17, 2024.

Advanced Telecommunications Deployment. On November 1, 2023, the FCC released the Seventeenth Section 706 Report Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) in GN Docket No. 22-270. Focusing on the universal service goals of section 706—“universal deployment, affordability, adoption, availability, and equitable access to broadband throughout the United States,” the NOI also notes the first use of the new Broadband Data Collection (“BDC”) data and will consider how recent improvements to the data collection may affect the Inquiry. In particular, the FCC seeks comment on a proposal to increase the fixed broadband speed benchmark to 100 megabits per second for download and 20 megabits per second for upload as well as a proposal to eventually achieve” a target for fixed broadband speeds of 1 gigabit per second for download and 500 megabits per second for upload. Comments were due by December 1, 2023. Reply comments are due on December 18, 2023.

AI Technology Implications for Robocall/Robotext Management. On November 16, 2023, the FCC released a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) in CG Docket No. 23-362, seeking comment on the implications of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for continuing efforts to protect consumers from unwanted and illegal robocalls and robotexts. Comments are due on December 18, 2023, with reply comments due on January 16, 2024.

Robotext Management. On October 20, 2023, the FCC issued a Notice and Request for Comments (“NRC”) seeking Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) comments on a new information collection regarding robotexts in connection with the Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (released in CG Docket Nos. 21-402 and 02-278 on March 17, 2023) which required mobile wireless providers to block at the network level certain text messages that are deemed highly likely to be illegal. Comments are due by December 19, 2023. Filing instructions are provided in the NRC.

Maternal Health Data Inquiry. On October 19, 2023, the FCC adopted a Notice of Inquiry in GN Docket No. 23-309, seeking comment on methods to further develop the use of the FCC’s Mapping Broadband Health in America platform to leverage digital health tools in order to improve maternal care in the U.S. Comments were due on November 20, 2023, with reply comments due on December 19, 2023.

WRC-15 Allocation Decisions. On April 21, 2023, the FCC released an Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in ET Docket No. 23-120, seeking comment on its proposal to amend the Allocation Table and related service rules to implement certain radiofrequency allocation decisions from the Final Acts World Radiocommunication Conference 2015,” specifically concerning portions of the radio spectrum between 5330.5 kHz and 29.5 GHz, other spectrum allocation changes, and related updates to the Commission’s service rules. Affected frequency bands include multiple allocations for satellite, maritime on-board communications at 457/467 MHz, and broadcasting service at 700 MHz among others. Please note that the comment deadlines for this proceeding were misstated in the initial September 29, 2023, Federal Register publication. As corrected in the October 27, 2023 Federal Register, comments were due on November 28, 2023, with reply comments due on December 28, 2023.

Numbers Access. On September 21, 2023, the FCC adopted a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in WC Docket Nos. 13-97, 07-243, and 20-67 and IB Docket No. 16-155, seeking comment on additional proposals aimed at minimizing abuse of number resources by bad actors, with particular focus on interconnected VoIP providers that might collaborate in or otherwise facilitate robocalling. Following publication in the October 30, 2023, Federal Register, comments were due on November 29, 2023, with reply comments due on December 29, 2023.

National Spectrum Strategy Implementation Plan. On December 7, 2023, the Federal Register published a Notice of Opportunity for Public Input issued by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”) on the development of the Implementation Plan to implement the National Spectrum Strategy released by NTIA on November 13, 2023, in response to a White House Presidential Memorandum. NTIA seeks public views on implementing the Strategy, with a focus on the next one-to-three years. The comments in response to the Notice must be filed with the NTIA by January 2, 2024 at NSSimplementationplan@​ntia.​gov.

E-Rate Program and Remote Learning Needs. On November 8, 2023, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in WC Docket No. 21-31 (with Erratum issued on November 15, 2023) seeking comment on proposed updates to the E-Rate program aimed at effectively addressing the continuing remote learning needs of students, school staff and library patrons. Following publication in the December 7, 2023, Federal Register, comments are due by January 8, 2024, and reply comments are due by January 22, 2024.

FTC Rulemaking on Unfair or Deceptive Fees. The Federal Trade Commission has opened a rulemaking to develop a trade regulation rule against unfair or deceptive practices relating to fees for goods or services, specifically, misrepresenting the total costs of goods and services by omitting mandatory fees from advertised prices and misrepresenting the nature and purpose of fees.” Comments are due on January 8, 2024. Filing details are available in the November 9, 2023 Federal Register.

Commercial Space Launch Spectrum. In conjunction with the Second Report and Order in ET Docket No. 13-115 adopted at the FCC’s September Open Meeting, the Commission issued a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“Second FNPRM”) seeking comment on the possible expansion of commercial space launch operators’ access to spectrum in the 1435-1525 and 2360-2395 MHz flight test bands, and the possible use of commercial space launch spectrum for on-orbit communications. The Second FNPRM has not yet been published in the Federal Register. Consequently, the comments dates have not yet been established. The opening comments will be due 30 days after publication. Similarly, several Wireless Telecommunications Bureau public notices described in the Second Report and Order have not yet been issued, including one seeking comment on the designation of a third-party coordinator for commercial space flight operations – as well as the coordination process – in the recently adopted non-Federal 2200-2290 and 2025-2110 MHz Space Launch Service band allocations. These public notices have yet to be issued, establishing comment deadlines on the coordination issues.

III. Select Ongoing Filing Requirements

Pro Forma Assignments and Transfers

Assignments of Authorization and Transfers of Control can be filed either as pro forma applications or non-pro forma applications.

A pro forma assignment or transfer is one in which the form of ownership changes but actual control of the license remains with the same entity or person. Pro forma assignments and transfers may be approved under streamlined Forbearance procedures in the case of most telecommunications carriers (e.g., Section 214 authorization holders, wireless licensees (excluding those with installment payment or designated entity issues) and earth station licensees). These pro forma requests do not require prior FCC approval provided that the parties notify the FCC of the change within 30 days. Note that private licenses are not subject to forbearance. FCC approval generally is required for pro forma transfers and assignments of private licenses.

Change in FCC Form 499 Filer Information

Filers must update their registration information, including a DC Agent for Service of Process in accordance with these instructions to the FCC Form 499-A. Filers must file updated information within one week of the contact information change. Filers wishing to update Preparer information, headquarters address, billing contact information, or DC Agent for Service of Process, can submit either an FCC Form 499-A or an FCC Form 499-Q or, for billing-related matters only, email USAC’s billing department. Filers wishing to update any other information must submit a revised FCC Form 499-A. For more information, see https://​www​.usac​.org/​s​e​r​v​i​c​e​-​p​r​o​v​i​d​e​r​s​/​c​o​n​t​r​i​b​u​t​i​n​g​-​t​o​-​t​h​e​-​u​s​f​/​m​a​k​i​n​g​-​r​e​v​i​s​ions/.

Filers that cease providing telecommunications must deactivate their Filer ID with USAC by submitting a letter with termination date and information on their successor entity to USAC. Filers must also update their CORES ID information with the Commission

Filers must file within 30 days of the date that the company ceases to provide telecommunications service or telecommunications.

FCC: https://​apps​.fcc​.gov/​c​o​r​e​s​/​u​s​e​r​L​o​g​

USAC: www​.usac​.org/​s​e​r​v​i​c​e​-​p​r​o​v​i​d​e​r​s​/​c​o​n​t​r​i​b​u​t​i​n​g​-​t​o​-​t​h​e​-​u​s​f​/​m​a​n​a​g​e​-​y​o​u​r​-​4​99-id

Change in Robocall Mitigation Plans

A voice service provider that has not fully implemented the STIR/SHAKEN call authentication framework for all calls must submit a robocall mitigation plan pursuant to 47 CFR § 64.6305(b). Any provider that makes a change in any of the following information must submit a revised robocall mitigation plan within 10 business days of the change. See 47 CFR § 64.6305(b)(5).

  • Its certification as to the implementation of STIR/SHAKEN in its network;
  • The extension(s) that apply to its implementation of the STIR/SHAKEN framework;
  • The specific reasonable steps the voice service provider has taken to avoid originating illegal robocall traffic as part of its robocall mitigation program;
  • Its commitment to respond to all traceback requests and law enforcement requests for information on illegal robocalling; and
  • The provider’s business name, d/b/a name(s), former name(s), its legal address and contact information for one person within the company responsible for addressing robocall mitigation-related issues.

The link for submitting a revised robocall mitigation plan is available here.

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Attorneys in Kelley Drye’s Communications Practice Group are experienced in addressing a full range of communications business and regulatory issues, including radiofrequency spectrum allocations, radio system licensing, radio service operating and technical rules, coordination agreements between users, and interference resolution.

For more information, please contact your current Kelley Drye attorney or any member of the Communications Practice Group.