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  EB - January 2004 Presentation by Bureau Chief, David H. Solomon

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I. Introduction

Good morning.

On behalf of the 330 highly talented and productive employees of the Enforcement Bureau, I'm pleased to report on our achievements during the past year and our goals for the coming year.

The Enforcement Bureau has made major contributions to all six of the Commission's strategic goals.

Everything we do in EB is aimed at serving American consumers. Using enforcement to ensure that consumers reap public interest benefits intended by Congress and the Commission is not just a theoretical concept. Recently, for example, we stepped up our enforcement against companies that owe money to the universal service fund. We issued a proposed forfeiture of over $800,000 against one seriously delinquent company, by far the largest enforcement action ever in this area. This action prompted an increase in payments to the fund, which in turn allowed the Commission to lower the contribution factor, resulting in savings to consumers.

Underlying this kind of impact on consumers is the fact that, in 2003, we took almost 900 enforcement actions, ranging from citations and admonishments to very significant forfeiture orders and revocation. In monetary terms, we ordered, proposed or agreed to payments to the Treasury or damages to competitors of close to $45 million. I should note, however, that the absence of enforcement in certain areas can also be a sign of success in that it shows companies are complying.

II. Broadband/Competition Enforcement

In the competition and broadband areas, we took a number of actions last year to protect consumers and to enforce the market-opening requirements of the Act.

Our number one consumer protection enforcement priority is the Commission's Do-Not-Call rules. Accordingly, we created a special Do-Not-Call Enforcement Team within our Telecommunications Consumers Division. As the Commission demonstrated with its proposed forfeiture involving the company-specific Do-Not-Call rules, it is prepared to take strong enforcement action in this area to ensure compliance. Last month, we took our first enforcement actions under the new National Do-Not-Call rules - five citations - and several investigations are pending.

We also took major actions in other consumer protection areas, including junk faxes, slamming and deceptive marketing, and successfully assisted the parties in settling the first formal section 255 disabilities complaint.

In the universal service area, in addition to our stepped-up enforcement regarding non-payment, we also began selected audits on other issues and took action under the new debarment rules.

Turning to our market-opening actions, which promote efficiency, economic growth and investment, the Commission decided several formal complaint cases enforcing the local competition rules, one of which led to the award of $12 million in damages to a CLEC. Importantly, the Commission reaffirmed its jurisdiction, along with states, to interpret and enforce interconnection agreements and the market-opening requirements of the 1996 Act. Our Market Disputes Resolution Division also continued its mediation program, which resulted in settlements in more than half of the relevant cases.

We also entered into a series of consent decrees with each of the Bell Operating Companies - totaling $15 million - regarding issues of premature marketing and/or provisioning of long distance service under section 271 of the Act. We also actively implemented our structured section 271 compliance review program within our Investigations and Hearings Division.

III. Homeland Security

Turning to homeland security, our new Office of Homeland Security has been coordinating with over 50 government and private sector entities. We also run the Commission's 24/7 Communications and Crisis Management Center.

Our field offices have been involved in productive homeland security partnerships, for example, with the Department of Homeland Security on border interference issues and with a broader inter-agency homeland security technical task force.

Many of our public safety enforcement actions also have important homeland security implications. During the past year, for example, the Commission took about $3 million in E911 enforcement action. Strong enforcement has resulted in prompter E911 compliance. These rules save lives and EB is proud of its part in making the Commission's E911 program work. We have also actively enforced in such public safety areas as the Emergency Alert System, tower safety, RF radiation and cable signal leakage.

Through our field offices, we have also assisted law enforcement and emergency service agencies in ensuring that they can communicate in times of crisis. During the San Diego wildfires, for example, we assisted the Forest Service in finding additional frequencies when their helicopter and portable ground radio systems were overloaded. In Seattle, we investigated and resolved interference between an emergency room and medical helicopters. Our resolution of interference to Air Force control tower frequencies in one case led to an e-mail telling us that the interference was now ``deader than Millard Fillmore.''

We also used our expertise in finding and resolving harmful interference at certain public events where public safety agencies request our presence, for example, the Free Trade Area of the Americas conference in Miami. We will be providing similar assistance at the two political conventions this summer.

IV. Media

In the media enforcement area, the Commission has stepped up its indecency enforcement. The Commission proposed forfeitures in three cases at the statutory maximum, including one for more than $350,000. The more than $600,000 in indecency enforcement in the last three years is about four times the level of enforcement during the prior three years. We have several other significant NALs in the pipeline. In support of the Commission's localism initiative, during 2003, we took over $100,000 in actions enforcing the main studio and public file rules. We are also in the process of reviewing the results of a field audit of compliance by broadcasters and cable operators with the children's television commercial limits.

V. Spectrum

Through our 25 Field offices as well as our Spectrum Enforcement Division, the Enforcement Bureau is the spectrum cop on the beat. In addition to the spectrum-related public safety and homeland security work I already mentioned, of particular note is the fact that last year, through a variety of techniques, we shut down close to 300 pirate radio stations. We also started giving higher priority to complaints involving manufacturing and marketing of unlawful equipment, often imported from abroad. Such unlawful equipment marketing can cause interference, constitute unfair competition and cost American workers their jobs. On a separate front, we supported WTB's auctions work through our upper spectrum monitoring project, focused on identifying unencumbered spectrum. We also inaugurated an advanced technologies team to enhance our capability to identify and locate digital and complex signals. We are also partnering with the Army to evaluate the use of Time Difference of Arrival technology (or TDOA) to locate radio transmissions.

VI. Modernizing the FCC

In terms of modernizing the FCC, we are very proud that the Enforcement Bureau was the first recipient of the Chairman's ``Backlog Busters'' award. We have only three Commission-level cases pending in EB that are more than a year old and all of those will go to the 8th Floor in the next month or two. We hope to increase even more the speed of our decision-making in the coming year.

The Enforcement Bureau has taken great advantage of the FCC University and a multitude of other training opportunities. Over 90 percent of our staff took, in total, about 1000 courses in 2003, enhancing skills in such areas as new technologies, safety, mediation, auditing, management and leadership. Our Knowledge Sharing Program included engineers from OET, WTB and the Media Bureau spending time in the Field with EB agents working on RF radiation and public safety issues. We also had additional training this year at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. We have also been able to upgrade significantly the technical infrastructure necessary for our Field mission. For example, we made investments in new and improved mobile direction finding vehicles and associated digital receivers, RF radiation meters, spectrum analyzers and field intensity meters.

VII. Goals for 2004

Looking ahead to next year, we aim to stay focused on sustaining a strong FCC enforcement presence devoted to the interests of American consumers. We expect to be particularly active on Do-Not-Call, indecency, local number portability, universal service, public safety and section 271 and other local competition enforcement.

I want to close by thanking you, Mr. Chairman, and all of the Commissioners, for your strong leadership on enforcement. With that leadership, and hard work by EB's talented staff, I am confident that the Commission's enforcement program will continue to do great things for American consumers.

last reviewed/updated on Tue Apr 20 14:52:24 EDT 2004
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