911 Reliability, Network Outages, and Related Reporting Obligations
The Enforcement Bureau, through its Spectrum Enforcement Division (SED), seeks to ensure 911 call completion from the 911 caller at one end to the appropriate emergency call center (otherwise known as a public safety answering point or PSAP) at the other end. SED also seeks to ensure that companies meet reporting obligations designed to reflect steps taken to improve reliability and resiliency of 911 networks nationwide, as well as notification requirements designed to mitigate network outages.

Accessibility: Ensuring Equal Access to Services for Persons with Disabilities
TCD helps to ensure that persons with disabilities have access to programming and communications products, services, and equipment, and that such products and services are usable to persons with visual, hearing, or speech impairments, including persons who are deaf-blind.

Auctions
The Investigations and Hearings Division protects the integrity of Commission auctions by taking action to enforce the prohibited communications rules and proposing forfeitures against entities that default on their auction obligations.

Broadband
The Investigations and Hearings Division enforces the Commission’s rules governing broadband data filings to ensure accurate and complete datasets showing broadband deployment. The Investigations and Hearings Division also protects consumers by taking action against broadband internet providers that violate the Commission’s Internet transparency rules, as well as including transparency in billing requirements and restrictions on equipment charges under Section 642.

Support for Communications Restoration and National Special Security Events
In addition to its resolution of harmful interference, the Enforcement Bureau, through its field offices, provides communications support for emergency response efforts and restoration of communications. The Bureau also provides support for National Special Security Events.

Communications Towers
The Enforcement Bureau’s Field Offices investigate complaints regarding lighting outages, other deficient lighting and marking of antenna structures that can cause air hazards, and failures to comply with rules governing lighting monitoring, tower registration, and tower recordkeeping rules.

Equipment Authorization, Marketing, and Importation (Including Jammers)
Section 302 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, authorizes the Commission to promulgate regulations governing the interference potential of devices that emit radio frequency energy and can cause harmful interference to radio communications. The Enforcement Bureau, through its Spectrum Enforcement Division, ensures that radio frequency devices marketed, advertised, imported, or offered for sale comply with these rules. Radio frequency devices include a variety of consumer electronics, medical, industrial, and other electronic devices that have the potential to cause interference to other devices and services.

Foreign Ownership and Unauthorized Transfers
The Investigations and Hearings Division conducts investigations to root out undisclosed foreign ownership of U.S. telecommunications companies. The Investigations and Hearings Division also enforces the Commission’s rules against unauthorized transfers of control, helping to ensure that the qualifications of entities seeking to hold Commission licenses and authorizations are fully disclosed and reviewed.

Hearings
Under the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, the Commission may, in appropriate circumstances, decide to revoke (47 U.S.C. § 312) or not to renew (47 U.S.C. § 309(k)) a license or other authorization. In both cases, the Commission issues a preliminary decision describing the facts of the case and setting the matter for hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). The Enforcement Bureau’s Investigations and Hearings Division serves as trial staff for hearings before the ALJ. During the hearing, the licensee and the Enforcement Bureau may present evidence with respect to the matters designated for hearing. Following conclusion of the hearing, the ALJ issues a decision on the merits, which is ultimately decided by the full Commission.

Interference Resolution
The Enforcement Bureau, through its field offices, supports the Commission’s public safety goals, including investigations and resolution of interference to public safety communications and critical infrastructure. Interference complaints come from a variety of sources, but the Bureau’s highest priority is responding to complaints from those that protect the public and preserve security (e.g., Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control and navigation, U.S. Coast Guard search-and-rescue operators, Emergency Medical Service technicians, police, and firefighters).

Jammers
The Communications Act of 1934, as amended, prohibits the operation, manufacture, importation, marketing, and sale of equipment designed to jam or otherwise interfere with authorized radio communications, such as radar, global positioning system (GPS), and cell phone communications. These jamming devices pose significant risks to public safety and potentially compromise other radio communications services.

Pirate Radio
Section 301 of the Communications Act requires an FCC license or authorization for the operation of a broadcast station. Unauthorized or “pirate” radio stations generally involve an individual operating an over-the-air radio station in the AM or FM frequency band without an FCC license that exceeds the unlicensed radiated emission limits found in part 15 of the Commission’s rules.

Privacy/Data Security/Cybersecurity: Customer Proprietary Network Information
TCD enforces the provisions of sections 201(b) and 222 of the Communications Act, as well as the accompanying Commission rules, relating to how telecommunications carriers protect the privacy and security of their customers’ (and certain other entities’) information. Section 201(b) of the Act requires that carriers’ practices be just and reasonable, including practices related to privacy, data protection, and cybersecurity. Section 222 restricts carriers’ use and disclosure of their customers’ (and certain other entities’) “proprietary” information and requires that telecommunications carriers protect the confidentiality of that information. In addition, the Commission’s rules require carriers and interconnected VoIP providers to take reasonable measures to safeguard certain sensitive data known as “customer proprietary network information” (CPNI), to notify consumers and law enforcement of data breaches involving CPNI, and to file annual certifications documenting their compliance with the CPNI rules (codified at 47 CFR § 64.2001 et seq).

Non-technical Rules Applicable to Broadcasters, Satellite Radio Providers, and Cable Television Providers
Non-technical rules applicable to broadcasters, satellite radio providers, and MVPDs, including: EEO Requirements, Sponsorship Identification, CALM Act (Loud Commercials), EAS Misuse, Indecency, and Underwriting.

Rural Call Completion
The Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act of 2017 (the RCC Act) addressed problems with call quality and call completion in rural areas by requiring intermediate providers—companies assisting originating phone providers to route phone calls—to register with the FCC and to comply with FCC established service quality standard. The FCC’s rules further require most long-distance carriers to monitor and promptly remedy call completion issues. The Investigations and Hearings Division enforces the RCC Act and the FCC’s rules and policies directed at improving call completion to rural areas, including carrier requirements to monitor and remedy call completion issues.

Section 642/TVPA Requirements
The Television Viewer Protection Act of 2019 (TVPA) and Section 642 of the Communications Act requires multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) to “give consumers a breakdown of all charges related to the MVPD’s video service” before entering into a contract with a consumer for service and also provides consumers 24 hours in which to cancel such service without penalty. In addition, section 642 requires greater transparency in electronic bills and prohibits MVPDs and providers of fixed broadband Internet access service from charging consumers for equipment they do not provide. The Investigations and Hearings Division enforces the requirements of Section 642 and associated FCC rules, including transparency in billing requirements and restrictions on equipment charges.

Tower Siting and Construction: National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA)
Under the Commission’s environmental rules, applicants and licensees are required to assess whether certain proposed facilities may significantly affect the environment. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires environmental review of federal actions that may have a significant environmental effect. The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) is a component of NEPA review if a federal action may affect historic structures or cultural sites.

Unauthorized Operation (Except Pirate Radio)
Section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, prohibits the use or operation of a radio frequency station except in accordance with a Commission-granted authorization. Investigations focus on operating without a Commission license or other authority or in a manner inconsistent with the Communications Act, Commission rules, and terms of the underlying authorization/license.

Universal Service Fund
The Enforcement Bureau’s Fraud Division and Investigations and Hearings Division enforce the Commission’s regulations governing the Universal Service Fund (USF) and programs subsidized through the USF, including rules covering the Lifeline program; service provider filing requirements and contributions to the USF; and new broadband initiatives, such as the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program and Affordable Connectivity Program. These enforcement actions protect the integrity of the USF programs, prevent fraud, waste, and abuse in connection with the USF programs, and help to ensure the delivery of the essential services supported by the USF programs. Suspensions and debarments from USF programs are overseen by the Investigations and Hearings Division.

Unjust and Unreasonable Practices by Telecommunications Providers
Federal laws protect American telecommunications consumers from practices that are deemed unjust and unreasonable in nature. In addition, FCC regulations generally prohibit deceptive and fraudulent practices, and require phone bills to be accurate and not misleading.

Unlicensed Operation or Operation at Variance with License: Wireless Radio Services, Submarine Cables, and Satellite Services
Section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, prohibits the use or operation of a radio frequency station except in accordance with a Commission-granted authorization. Investigations focus on operating without a Commission license or other authority or in a manner inconsistent with the Communications Act, Commission rules, and terms of the underlying authorization/license.

Unwanted Communications: Robocalls, Caller ID Spoofing, Do-Not-Call Registry, and Junk Faxes
Federal laws and FCC regulations protect American consumers from unsolicited messages by placing limits on how, when, where, and why a caller may use particular kinds of telephone technologies. Additionally, FCC rules obligate telecommunications providers to take steps to combat unlawful robocalling and help consumers avoid unwanted messages.

 

 

Bureau/Office: 

Updated: 
Tuesday, December 20, 2022