- Competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) licenses and tariffs
- State CLEC certifications
- Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC) designations
- Regulatory compliance
- Billing disputes with incumbent local exchange companies and other vendors
- 911 agreement issues
- FCC and state commission Enforcement/Penalty cases
- Complaint and arbitration proceedings before state utility commissions
- Negotiating interconnection agreements with incumbent telephone companies
- Post – interconnection dispute resolution proceedings
- Contracting with third-party providers
- Taxation issues
- Strategic planning
- Compliance with privacy laws when responding to data requests from law enforcement
- Federal Disability Accessibility and Hearing Aide Compatibility requirements
- VoIP providers – regulations, taxes and fees
Working with economic consultants, FosterLaw helps clients analyze vendors’ and ILEC rate and service offerings and evaluate new markets and product offerings. Our goal is to reduce clients’ costs of doing business and increase operational efficiencies.
FosterLaw is committed to helping clients identify and capitalize on business opportunities in the midst of the uncertainty that can be caused by changing regulations. We have the skills and resources to represent clients before most of the state utility commissions throughout the United States. When local counsel is required, FosterLaw taps its nationwide network of attorneys who provide local assistance at little additional cost.
REPRESENTATIVE CASES & PROJECTS
- Advocate for national organization of Lifeline providers and supporters in numerous FCC rulemaking proceedings affecting the Lifeline program and implementation of the FCC’s Lifeline Reform Order.
- Represented telecom providers in post-interconnection dispute resolutions through arbitrations at state utility commissions. See, for example Texas PUC Docket 38389 and Texas PUC Docket 41158.
- Obtained Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (“ETC”) designation through contested case hearing before Administrative Law Judge over commission staff opposition. See Texas PUC Docket 36164.
- Drafted and negotiated vendor agreements and customer service agreements for VoIP providers, CLECs, wireless resellers, MVNOs, and enterprise customer systems providers.
- Negotiated terms of access to commercial buildings. FosterLaw’s work resulted in workable license agreements for carriers, building owners, and building tenants.
- Represented coalition of CLECs in major arbitration before state utility commission for new interconnection agreement with major ILEC. See Texas PUC Docket 28821. This agreement is still utilized by the bulk of Texas CLECs today.
the telecom business and industry. I would highly recommend Mark for all your Telecom needs.”
On July 14, 2017, the FCC issued a proposed notice that it was considering rules regarding slamming and cramming. Pertinent sections of this notice are as follows:
All too often, unscrupulous carriers target Americans, including those within vulnerable populations like the elderly, recent immigrants, small businesses, and non-English speakers, to carry out unauthorized carrier changes, or “slams.” These carriers misrepresent who they are and why they are calling, fraudulently verify carrier changes, and add unauthorized charges, or “crams,” onto consumers’ bills.
With this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, we seek comment on additional steps to protect consumers from slamming and cramming.
Although the Commission has in place verification rules to prevent slamming, our rules do not expressly ban carrier- or carrier-agent-misrepresentations on the sales calls that typically precede a slam. We thus propose to codify, pursuant to Sections 258 and 201(b), a new Section 64.1120(a)(1)(i)(A) banning misrepresentations on the sales calls and stating that any misrepresentation or deception would invalidate any subsequent verification of a carrier change, even where the submitting carrier purports to have evidence of consumer authorization (e.g., a TPV recording).
We note that our slamming rules currently do not apply to CMRS, pre-paid wireless, or interconnected VoIP. Are such misrepresentations enough of a problem for CMRS, pre-paid wireless and interconnected VoIP and sufficient to justify extending our proposed rule to cover those services? Would such a rule impose any burden on legitimate marketing? How should the proposed rule interact with existing State slamming rules?
We also propose to codify a rule against cramming. While cramming has been a long-standing problem and the Commission has adopted truth-in-billing rules to help detect it, the Commission has never codified a rule against cramming. We thus propose to codify in a new Section 64.2401(g) the existing prohibition against cramming that we have enforced under Section 201(b) of the Act. Our cramming rules currently do not apply to interconnected VoIP, and only some of the cramming rules apply to CMRS. Should we extend this proposed rule to CMRS, pre-paid wireless and interconnected VoIP? Are there limitations on the Commission’s ability to adopt the proposed cramming rule? Should this proposed rule be codified under the slamming rules as opposed to the cramming rules?
Please contact FosterLaw with any questions or concerns for your business.[/toggle]
On April 27, 2016, the FCC issued a written order that was adopted at its March 31, 2016 Open
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Meeting to modernize and reform the Lifeline program. The full text of the order can be found at https://prodnet.www.neca.org/publicationsdocs/wwpdf/fcc1638.pdf. The Order allows support for robust, standalone fixed and mobile broadband services; establishes minimum service standards for broadband and mobile voice services; and implements a five and one-half year transition, during which the FCC will gradually increase mobile voice and data service standards and gradually decrease voice support levels. After completion of this multi-year transition, Lifeline funding will be focused on supporting “modern services.” The Order requires that Lifeline providers make available Wi-Fi- and hotspot-enabled devices when providing such devices for use with the Lifeline-supported service. The Order also encourages entry of new Lifeline providers to supply broadband by creating a streamlined federal Lifeline Broadband Provider (LBP) designation process.
Additionally, the Order creates the National Verifier, which will transfer the responsibility of eligibility determination away from Lifeline providers. The Order also allows consumers to qualify for Lifeline based on participation in SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, Federal Public Housing Assistance and the Veterans Pension benefit program, as well as all current Tribal qualifying programs or by demonstrating income of less than 135 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.
Finally, the Order also reforms the non-usage rules, minimizes advertising burdens on providers, establishes an annual budget of $2.25 billion, and makes recertification a rolling process.
The FCC has begun taking steps related to the transition from copper to next- ...READ MORE ► generation infrastructures. In an August 6, 2015 Report and Order, the Commission adopted multiple rule changes relating to the retirement of copper. For example, providers must now directly notify customers of their plans to retire copper networks at least three months in advance. However, carriers can still retire copper networks for fiber without Commission approval, so long as service is not discontinued, reduced or impaired. The FCC also plans to codify the rules for evaluating and comparing replacement and legacy services when carriers seek FCC approval to discontinue, reduce, or impair service. The FCC seeks comment on potential standards, which include the following:
- Support for 911 services and call centers;
- Network capacity and reliability;
- Quality of both voice service and Internet access;
- Interoperability with devices and services, such as alarm services and medical monitoring;
- Access for people with disabilities, including compatibility with assistive technologies;
- Network security in any IP-supported network that is comparable to the legacy network;
- Coverage throughout the service area, either by the substitute network or via service from other provider; and
- Plan for outreach to affected consumers.
As an interim measure, the Commission adopted rules require that replacement services for last mile services be offered to competitive providers at rates, terms and conditions that are reasonably comparable to those of the legacy services. The FCC will finalize pending the completion of the FCC’s special access proceeding, which will examine these issues more broadly.
On June 18, 2015, the Commission announced that it was seeking comment as to how to establish minimum service levels for Lifeline mobile. The FCC seeks to do so under authority ...READ MORE ► of 47 U.S.C. § 254(b)(3), which states that the Lifeline program should enable low-income Americans to have “access to telecommunications and information services. . . that are reasonably comparable to those services provided in urban areas.” The FCC proposed delegating the responsibility to the Wireline Competition Bureau, which would have to tie the standards to “objective, publicly available data.” The Commission also contemplates offering varying service levels for different tiers of Lifeline service, such occurs in California under the state Lifeline program. Additionally, the FCC proposes shifting the responsibility of Lifeline eligibility determination from Lifeline providers to a third-party. The Commission specifically contemplates a national lifeline eligibility verifier, and seeks comment as to how to implement such a verifier. The FCC also discussed incentivizing states to develop “dependable means-tested processes to verify consumer Lifeline eligibility” and whether it had the authority to do so.
No Blocking: broadband providers may not block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
No Throttling: broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
No Paid Prioritization: broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration of any kind—in other words, no “fast lanes.” This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates.The FCC’s action was taken on a party line vote of Commissioners. The “pro” argument is explained in Chairman Wheeler’s Statement. The “con” argument is set forth in recent Remarks of Commissioner O’Reilly.
Each state has a slightly different application and approval process for CLECs.
Below is information commonly needed to prepare an application: ...READ MORE ►
- Resumes of all key personnel need showing experience in the telecommunications industry and technical capability to operate a CLEC.
- Proof of financial capability is normally required; many states require proof of $100,000 or more in cash or liquid assets.
- Be ready to provide an explanation of the types of services that the company will provide.
- Note whether any officer or owner has a criminal history or has declared bankruptcy. These types of occurrences will need to be addressed in the CLEC Application.
- Be prepared to disclose all affiliated companies or companies that are owned or controlled by officers or owners.
- If you provide telecommunication services in any other state, some details about that business may be required.
Seeking out a Telecommunications Attorney experienced in CLEC certifications will be an advantage to your company. FosterLaw represents clients throughout the nation, and we have obtained hundreds of authorities for telecommunications providers in dozens of states. There can be many different reasons a telecommunications provider might want to obtain CLEC status – from wholesale access to plain old telephone service (POTS).