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KFR Updates

April 2016


Appeals Court Puts Hold on Inmate Payphone Rate Caps

A federal appeals court has stayed the implementation of rules set by the FCC that capped rates for calls to and from prisons and jails at 11 cents per minute.  The caps were challenged by inmate pay phone providers and several states, who argued that the FCC over-stepped its authority and failed to take into account the actual cost of providing inmate calling service (ICS).

While the 11-cent rate cap is on hold, the court allowed a related rule that eliminates ancillary fees on ICS. That rule took effect for prisons on March 17th of this year and will become effective for jails on June 20th.

KFR Updates covered the FCC's ruling in our January 2016 issue.


FCC Subsidizes Broadband for Low Income Subscribers

The FCC Voted on March 31st to allow an existing subsidy for low income telephone subscribers to be used for broadband services.

In an effort to close the "digital divide", the Commission voted along party lines to approve a measure that enables low income consumers to apply the $9.25 per month Lifeline subsidy to broadband service or voice/data bundles.  The program reforms also include minimum standards for speed and usage allowances to which broadband providers must adhere for their services to be eligible for subsidies. According the the FCC, the new rules encourage participation by broadband providers by: 
  • Providing streamlined, nationwide entry for a new category of providers, called Lifeline Broadband Providers
  •  Establishing a third-party National Eligibility Verifier, reducing cost to providers of verifying subscriber eligibility
  • Modernizing rules to improve program flexibility, reduce burdens, and incentivize participation by providers
The issue proved contentious, with the two Republican Commissioners negotiating with Democrat Mignon Clyburn to secure a bi-partisan compromise, which was reached the evening before the vote.  However, just prior to the vote, Clyburn changed her mind and voted with her fellow Democrats.  Commissioner Ajit Pai, in a scathing statement, blamed FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler for pushing through a version of the order with very few changes from his initial proposal.  "This agency in this proceeding represented the worst of government. Bipartisan agreements that would deliver digital opportunity to millions of Americans are thrown away and even Democratic commissioners are bulldozed simply because the Chairman can get away with it," Pai said.

The largest point of contention was the "budget mechanism" put into place by the order, designed to control Lifeline spending which ballooned from $809 million in 2005 to $2.2 billion in 2012.  The order sets a budget of $2.25 billion for the Lifeline, but Republican commissioner Michael O'Rielly points out that the rules as written allow the budget to be exceeded without further Commission action.

Click here to read the FCC's press release and the statements of all five Commissioners.

Numbering Plan Updates

Exhaust Projections: The North American Numbering Plan Administration has announced that area codes 360 (Washington), 510 (California) and 518 (New York) will run out of assignable phone numbers prior to the dates projected earlier.  Area code 360 is now forecasted to exhaust in the first quarter of 2018, one year earlier than previously projected. Area code 510 is now expected to exhaust in the second quarter of 2019 (six months earlier than last projected), and area code 518 is now expected to exhaust in the 1st quarter of 2019 (three months earlier than last projected). 

North Carolina: New NPA 743, which overlays the existing 336 NPA, will be open for assignment of NXXs on May 23, 2016. Mandatory 10-digit dialing begins in this area on April 23, 2016. 

New York: Permissive 10-digit dialing began on March 12, 2016 for new NPA 680, which overlays existing NPA 315. Mandatory 10-digit dialing for new NPA 934, which overlays existing NPA 631, begins June 18, 2016.

Indiana: Permissive 10-digit dialing began on March 19, 2016 for new NPA 463, which overlays existing NPA 317.

Non-Geographic: The current supply of 5XX-NXX codes is projected to exhaust in the second half of this year, so relief planning has begun.  NPA 522 has been assigned for this purpose.  Per the North American Numbering Plan Administration's notice,5XX-NXX codes are used for applications which are non-geographic in nature, are not assigned to rate centers and may or may not traverse the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), but do require an E.164 addressing scheme. The use of this NANP numbering resource is to communicate with both fixed and mobile devices, some of which may be unattended. This resource may also be used for applications enabling machines, which would include but not be limited to wireless devices and appliances, with the ability to share information with back-office control and database systems and the people that use them.  Service is limited only by terminal and network capabilities and restrictions imposed by the service provider.
KFR News