FCC Chairman Ajit Pai plans to ask his fellow Commissioners to vote at their March 31 meeting on a proposal to consider detariffing the remaining interstate end-user access charges still subject to FCC regulation, such as subscriber lines charges (SLCs) and presubscribed interexchange carrier chargers (PICCs).
The Chairman’s planned agenda for the March 31 meeting also includes the caller ID authentication mandate he announced on Friday (TR Daily, March 6) and three Media Bureau items.
In a blog post today outlining his planned proposals for the March 31 meeting, Chairman Pai said, “In light of the multitude of options that American consumers now have for voice service, I'm proposing to examine whether certain pricing and tariffing regulations that the FCC imposed on incumbent phone companies when they held a monopoly on local telephone service still make sense today.
“Specifically, I've circulated a proposal to deregulate and detariff what I'm calling ‘Telephone Access Charges,’ which are the last handful of interstate end-user charges that remain subject to FCC regulation. Under this proposal, the FCC would also prohibit all carriers from separately listing these charges—an alphabet soup of charges like the Subscriber Line Charge, the Access Recovery Charge, the Presubscribed Interexchange Carrier Charge, the Line Port Charge, and the Special Access Surcharge—on customers' bills. Eliminating these line-item charges would make it easier for consumers to understand their phone bills and compare prices among voice service providers as well as help ensure that a carrier's advertised prices are closer to the prices that consumers actually pay,” Chairman Pai added.
Chairman Pai had announced on Friday that plans to propose mandating services providers to implement the industry-developed Secure Telephony Identity Revisited/Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs (STIR/SHAKEN) caller ID authentication solution in the IP (Internet protocol) portions of their networks by June 30, 2021, and to seek a vote on a further notice of proposed rulemaking (FNPRM) that would propose giving small and rural providers a one-year extension of the STIR-SHAKEN implementation deadline, pursuant to the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act enacted at the end of December.
Among other things, the TRACED Act requires carriers to implement call-authentication technology at no charge to consumers and small businesses and to provide opt-in or opt-out robocall-blocking at no charge to consumers.
In his blog post today, Chairman Pai said, “Because of ‘spoofed’ robocalls, Americans often look at the caller ID information on their phones and are tricked into thinking that the call is from someone in their community—even if it's a robocall from another country. But thanks to caller ID authentication technology known as STIR/SHAKEN, phone companies can verify the accuracy of the caller ID information that is transmitted with a call. Widespread implementation of this technology would help phone companies identify calls with illegally spoofed caller ID information before those calls reach their customers' phones. In other words, you'd have a lot more peace of mind when you pick up the phone.”
Chairman Pai added, “Last year, I demanded that major phone companies voluntarily deploy STIR/SHAKEN, and a number of them did. But it's clear that FCC action is now needed to spur across-the-board deployment of this important technology. At our March meeting, the Commission will therefore vote on new rules requiring implementation of STIR/SHAKEN by June 30, 2021, a deadline set forth in the TRACED Act, which was recently passed by Congress. Under my proposal, the FCC would also seek public input on additional measures to combat spoofed robocalls, including other measures to implement the TRACED Act.”
The three Media Bureau items that Chairman Pai said he would propose for votes at the March meeting are a notice of proposed rulemaking “based on a proposal by America's Public Television Stations and the National Association of Broadcasters, that seeks comment on whether and, if so, how to modify the DTS [distributed transmission system] rules to ensure that broadcasters planning to deploy ATSC 3.0 are able to use DTS effectively”; “a proposal to change the Commission’s rules governing the resolution of program carriage disputes between video programming vendors and multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs)” by modifying filing deadlines and effective dates of administrative law judge rulings, and by harmonizing “rules, where possible, for the resolution of program carriage, program access, retransmission consent, and open video system (OVS) complaints in these areas”; and a notice of proposed rulemaking “to examine modernizing the methodology for determining whether a television broadcast station is ‘significantly viewed’ in a community outside of its local television market and thus may be treated as a local station in that community for broadcast signal carriage purposes.”
In an ex parte presentation filed with the FCC on Friday, USTelecom recommended that “every provider should be required to certify that for all traffic not signed with STIR/SHAKEN, it has … an appropriate robocall mitigation program designed to prevent the origination of illegal calls and has measures in place to identify if its network is being used to generate such illegal calls, and to quickly mitigate such activity once detected.”
It added that “imposing such a robocall mitigation requirement on all service providers (not just TDM [time-division multiplex]) will not only provide benefits to prevent illegal spoofing, but will also prevent illegal calls made by parties using their own numbers.” —Lynn Stanton, [email protected]
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