Posts Tagged ‘FCC’

E-rate: A Federal Program for Schools and Libraries

Friday, October 6th, 2017

 

ClassroomNow that school is back in session, it may be time to evaluate the technology that supports your school or library. Implementing and maintaining phone and computer systems can be expensive, so we wanted to make you aware of a program that may be able to assist you with your technology costs.

 

E-rate is a federal program that helps to make telecommunications and information services more affordable for eligible schools and libraries across the country. Schools must meet the statutory definition of elementary and secondary schools found in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Libraries must meet the statutory definition of library or library consortium found in the 1996 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) (Pub. L. 104-208) and must be eligible for assistance from a state library administrative agency under that Act.

 

Mandated by Congress in 1996 and implemented by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1997, E-rate is funded by the Universal Service Fund and provides discounts for Wi-Fi, high-speed broadband and telecommunications services to eligible schools and libraries. The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) is a not-for-profit corporation designated by the FCC to administer the $10 billion Universal Service Fund.

 

If your school or library would like to participate in E-rate, here are the four steps in the process:

 

  1. Request bids for service
  2. Apply for funding
  3. Start receiving services
  4. Invoice USAC

 

You can begin this process by submitting FCC Form 470, which must be filed online in the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC). This form must be posted on the USAC website for a minimum of 28 days, known as the competitive bidding period. This is a formal process to identify and request the products and services you need so that potential service providers can review your requests online and submit bids for your consideration.

 

Teltek is a registered E-rate Vendor and our Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) is 830717. We have access to nearly all of the telecommunications E-rate carriers throughout the country, which allows us to gather multiple quotes from these carriers and present them to you in an easy-to-read spreadsheet.

 

If you are interested in switching the copper phone lines in your school or library to SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) trunking, our new SIP service is an eligible service under the E-rate program! To learn more about E-rate and Teltek’s role in this program, please visit our E-rate page.

 

Is the broadband market competitive? The FCC might be changing its tune.

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

 

The more competitive the market, the better as far as consumers are concerned as increased competition drives down cost.  If we look at the broadband market (both wired and wireless) as a whole nationally, there are many players in the ring and increased competition in markets responding to availability of Google’s Gigabit services and other wired and wireless options.

 

However, when drilling down to specific local markets and looking at increased speed demands, the options are sparse, as it relates to “50Mbit/s and faster services, 82% of homes have either one possible provider or none at all, while 6.3% of the population cannot get any kind of broadband.”  When faster speeds are required, there are fewer competitors.  In fact, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler “calls truly high-speed Net access a modern-day essential but says most Americans ‘have no competitive choice’.”

 

With increased connectivity demands from households expecting responsive home networks capable of handling multiple users (mobile, tablet and laptops,) streaming music and smart TV’s plus the added bandwidth requirements of connected devices – security systems, refrigerators and HVAC systems – consumers are demanding more and new players are getting into the bandwidth consumption business.  Not only does consumer spend on monthly access and the availability of appropriate bandwidth to support usage effect the broadband market but also the manufacturers’ of these connected home and mobile devices.  The balance of these seemingly disparate industries in tapping the consumer wallet is vital to the American economy.   How will the FCC respond?

 

 “Large communications companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon Communications have consistently argued for a light regulatory touch from the FCC on all of these issues, saying there’s plenty of competition in both the wireless and wired broadband markets. But Wheeler (has) refuted such claims in his remarks, especially when it comes to wired broadband. Instead, he made it clear that when comparing broadband services, particularly on the wireline side, speed matters.”  This increased demand w/o the balance of providers necessary to support the market competitively might have the FCC second guessing the proposed acquisition of TimeWarner Cable by Comcast.  If the acquisition were to be approved, it would create an entity that controls internet access in 40% of households in the US.

 

While it’ll be months before the regulators decide on the acquisition, it looks like the FCC is keeping an eye on all things broadband as it will effect options available to consumers as they relate to price and speed.

 

 Teltek is a Certified Avaya Business Partner, NEC Dealer, and Microsoft Partner with two locations in the Baltimore Metropolitan area. We specialize in providing one call technology support for small to mid-sized businesses and nonprofits in Maryland, Washington, DC, Virginia and Pennsylvania

 

For Now, Do Not Text Emergency Messages To 911

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

 

In honor of National Public Safety Telecommunications Week, we wanted to share a valuable, possibly life saving tip with our readers. Although texting has become an increasingly popular form of communication, most 911 call centers are not able to receive text messages or respond to them, except for the center in Frederick, MD.

Frederick County’s 911 center has expanded their communication abilities to accept 911 texts from Verizon customers. The reason for this early adoption of receiving 911 texts? Frederick is the location of Maryland’s School for the Deaf main campus.

The Federal Communications Commission is working with the nation’s four largest wireless carriers; AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, to make texting 911 a valid way to communicate an emergency. The carriers signed an agreement to make emergency texting available to more than 90 percent of American cellphone users by May 15, 2014.

Next year or sooner, these carriers will relay text messages to text-enabled 911 call centers. The next step is getting the call centers up to speed to accept these texts.

A 911 call center in Iowa started accepting texts in 2009 and trials of 911 texting are going on in Vermont. In most other areas, texts sent to 911 are not received or responded to.

Before the text receiving ability is fully operational, the FCC has requested call centers to  respond with “bounce  back” messages so people who text 911 in areas where the service isn’t ready to accept text will know their text didn’t go through. The bounce message will instruct texters to make a voice call to 911. The plan is for the bounce back message to be implemented nationwide by June 30th of this year.

While 911 call centers generally prefer being called, so they can ask questions, etc., texting is an important feature for users who are speech or hearing impaired or in a situation where the caller needs to remain quiet for safety reasons, as in the case of a home invasion or workplace attack.

The FCC has wanted a 911 texting system for quite some time and referenced the shooting at Virginia Tech. Several students sent text messages during the crisis that were never received. 33 people were killed in that attack.

If you’d like more information on how to integrate cell phones into your communications system, call Teltek today! The Avaya and NEC phone systems we sell, install and support work well with mobile technology.

Teltek is a Certified Avaya Business Partner, NEC Dealer, and Microsoft Partner with three locations in the Baltimore and DC Metropolitan areas. We specialize in providing one call technology support for small to mid-sized businesses and nonprofits in Maryland, Washington, DC, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

 

Superstorm Aftermath Pushes FCC To Ensure Reliable Communication

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Superstorm Sandy threw all of us for a loop. The chaos and destruction resulting from that catastrophic event affected thousands and many of the victims had no one to call…literally.

Following the power loss caused by Sandy were massive service failures at cellphone networks in the Northeast. Almost 1/4 of the cell towers were not working at some point after the storm. The cell towers without power survived briefly on battery backup systems and generators, but those alternatives soon gave out as well leaving many storm survivors without the ability to communicate with the outside world for several days.

Earlier this week, the Federal Communications Commission met with representatives of phone service providers, public utilities and city governments in New York to review the widespread disruption of broadband and cell services during the storm and discuss ways to prevent that kind of communication loss in the future.

Some of the topics covered were how to prevent network failures and speed restoration of service.

New York City’s chief information and innovation officer suggested that the carriers install longer-lasting backup batteries since batteries the carriers use now last only eight hours.

After Hurricane Katrina, the FCC recommended that carriers install backup batteries that last 24 hours, but some cities’ zoning policies do not allow enough room at cell sites for batteries that large. Zoning restrictions will need to be revised before 24 hour batteries can be installed.

Other solutions available include utilizing portable cell towers, known as COWs (Cell On Wheels) and allowing cell phone users to temporarily use other networks, as AT&T and T-Mobile did following Superstorm Sandy.

The bottom line is that collaboration and flexibility are key to recovering from a traumatic event. In the event of natural disasters, solutions must be creative and quickly implemented.

If you are in need of a creative communications solution for your office, call Teltek today! Our skilled consultants and technicians are here to evaluate your communications system and help you overcome any obstacles you may encounter. From voice and data cabling to phone system installation and repairs, Teltek is your comprehensive technology partner!

Teltek is a Certified Avaya Business Partner, NEC Dealer, and Microsoft Partner with three locations in the Baltimore and DC Metropolitan areas. We specialize in providing one call technology support for small to mid-sized businesses and nonprofits in Maryland, Washington, DC, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Our dedicated team of experts enables Teltek to provide, install and repair business phone systems & computer networks, run voice and data cabling and coordinate local, long-distance, and internet service providers.

 

Avaya Has a Solution To Comply With New FCC Robocall Rules

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Today, November 15, 2012, is the date revisions to the FCC’s abandoned call rules take effect.

Abandoned calls are now not allowed to exceed three percent of calls placed by a telemarketer. Current FCC rules allow the three percent abandoned call safe harbor to be measured against all telemarketing calls made over a 30-day period. The new FCC rule amends the method by which it measures abandoned calls to match FTC rules that measure abandoned calls over the duration of a single calling campaign, if the campaign is less than 30 days or separately over each successive 30-day period during which the calling campaign continues. 

The FCC determined that October 16, 2013 is the effective date for new rules requiring companies to obtain prior express written consent from consumers before calling them with prerecorded telemarketing “robocalls” or before using an autodialer to call their wireless numbers with telemarketing messages.

January 14, 2013, is the effective date for its new rule requiring that prerecorded telemarketing messages must include an automated op-out mechanism.

These new regulations only apply to activity that the FCC refers to as “Telemarketing”. Your business should review the official FCC material to determine if the description (and therefore the regulations), apply to your organization.

According to the FCC, these new rules protect consumers by:

1. Requiring telemarketers to obtain prior express written consent, including by electronic means such as a website form, before placing a robocall to a consumer

2. Eliminating the “established business relationship” exemption to the requirement that telemarketing robocalls to residential wire line phones occur only with prior express consent from the consumer

3. Requiring telemarketers to provide an automated, interactive “opt-out” mechanism during each robocall so that consumers can immediately tell the telemarketer to stop calling

4. Strictly limiting the number of abandoned or “dead air” calls that telemarketers can make within each calling campaign.

Avaya’s Proactive Outreach Manager (POM) can already support the third and fourth rule changes. Proactive Outreach Manager runs on Avaya Aura Experience Portal or your existing Avaya Voice Portal. Customers can modify their self-service applications and use POM web services to automatically add consumer numbers to the DNC. In accordance to the fourth rule, POM does not dial more consumers than it has available message ports.

Patches for Proactive Contact 4.2.2 and Proactive Contact 5.0.1 have been previously posted for the third and fourth rule changes.

Avaya has provided a workaround for companies to utilize until they are able to make the necessary adjustments to their phone systems.

1) Use cruise control to ensure that the abandon calls are less than 3 percent

2) Select dates for Quality Summary reports for the nuisance rate per campaign, or

3) Export the campaign data into a separate reporting system and define the 30 day period there

For more information on bringing your call center into compliance, call Teltek today! We can help you get your phone system up to speed or get you into a new phone system that can make the process more streamlined and FCC approved.

Teltek is a Certified Avaya Business Partner, NEC Dealer, and Microsoft Partner with two locations in the Baltimore Metropolitan area. We specialize in providing one call technology support for small to mid-sized businesses and nonprofits in Maryland, Washington, DC, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

 

 

Ask The Teltek Tekspert – What Is Super Wi-Fi?

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Daniel in Greenbelt, MD asks:

I’ve heard a few rumblings about Super Wi-Fi. How is it different from regular Wi-Fi and when will we get access to it?

Super Wi-Fi is what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) calls a proposal it plans to use for the creation of longer-distance wireless internet. It’s a new kind of wireless network that runs on unused and underused white spaces that exist between television channel frequencies.

These lower frequencies allow the signal to travel further (400 meters of coverage compared vs. 100 meters with traditional Wi-Fi) and penetrate walls better than the higher radio frequencies used by regular Wi-Fi.

This development could be the solution for users in rural areas and other dead spots where broadband wireless isn’t available. If these areas can access television signals, Super Wi-Fi can deliver high-speed Internet to them.

This new technology is being tested in the US and around the world and if all goes well, we should start seeing widespread access to it in the next year or so.

Did you know that Teltek can install Wi-Fi in your home or office? Call us today for more information on how to have wireless access whenever and wherever you need it!

Teltek is proud to offer IT services as the fourth component to our multi-systems approach as your single source technology services company. This Managed Service Provider (MSP) offering completes our longstanding goal to provide our clients with a one-call resource for all of their business technology needs. IT outsourcing, remote back up and disaster recovery, helpdesk support, computer network relocations, security products and server/desktop virtualization are just a few of the services now available.

FCC Outage Reporting Rules Now Apply To VoIP

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

The Federal Communications Commission adopted a rule on February 15th that requires Interconnected VoIP service providers to report significant network outages. A reporting requirement was already in place, but it applied only to landlines and cell phones. This new development holds VoIP service providers to the same standard.

A significant network outage is defined as an outage of at least 30 minutes duration that potentially affects a 911 special facility or at least 900,000 user minutes of interconnected VoIP service and results in complete loss of service; or potentially affects any special offices and facilities. Interconnected VoIP service providers must now report such an outage within 240 minutes of discovering that it will affect a 911 facility and within 24 hours of discovering that it will affect users and/or special offices and facilities.

The goal is to ensure 911 system reliability and that VoIP customers are receiving quality and reliable service, whether they are using a traditional telephone or one that is supported by interconnected VoIP. The reporting requirement has been in place since 2004, but only applied to wired and wireless service providers. This new rule’s purpose is to expand the requirement to include service provided via Interconnected VoIP, thus shoring up a potentially dangerous hole in the FCC’s policies.

The integrity of our country’s communications infrastructure is a top priority of the FCC, and it was important to include all types of service provider support. According to a statement made by FCC Commissioner Clyburn, almost 32 million American households and businesses had interconnected VoIP subscriptions as of December 2010.

The decision to impose this type of reporting is a result of several lengthy VoIP outages over the past two years. In one situation, there was an outage which caused over one million customers to lose interconnected VoIP service for over four hours, an unacceptable circumstance in the FCC’s eyes.

The Commission relies on outage reporting requirements to create best practices for ensuring continuous and reliable communications. The outage data the FCC receives is analyzed and used to identify trends and patterns that could affect all carriers and networks.

This new regulation does not apply to broadband service providers, the Commission does not yet have the legal authority to regulate broadband in that manner.

As a provider of VoIP telephone equipment and a coordinator of VoIP and other types of carrier services, Teltek supports the FCC’s decision to expand their reporting requirements to include VoIP service providers. Call Teltek today to learn how a VoIP phone system can give your company a reliable communications solution and that competitive edge!