The FCC has proposed new rules to eliminate several obscure telecommunications charges that were either mandated or authorized for price regulated local exchange carriers and then mirrored by many competitive telecommunications providers. At its March 2020 Open Meeting, the Commission adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would eliminate the FCC’s regulation of the Subscriber Line Charge, and several other end-user access charges largely created as cost-recovery mechanism during access charge reforms in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. The NPRM also would prohibit all carriers from both listing these charges in their tariffs and breaking out these charges into separate line items on customer bills. These moves are touted by the Commission as relieving carriers of price regulation and increasing transparency for consumers.

Continue Reading FCC Initiates Rulemaking to Deregulate End-User Charges and Simplify Customer Bills

A May 2013 California Public Utilities Commission decision requires most companies holding a California CPCN or wireless registration (“WIR”) to submit a $25,000 continuous performance bond. The decision also revises application/registration requirements, increases filing fees and sets a minimum annual User Fee.   In addition, the CPUC will convene a workshop to consider whether to require VoIP providers to register with the Commission.

The primary impact of this decision for most providers in California will be the new performance bond requirement.  The CPUC’s bond requirement takes effect on August 21, 2013.  Thereafter, entities failing to obtain a performance bond may be subject to revocation proceedings.

Continue Reading California Requires Most Carriers to Post a Performance Bond

Barbara Miller contributed to this post.

Last week, a federal appellate court issued a decision signaling a significant victory for Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (“CLECs”) that rely on Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (“ILECs”) for transiting services in order to interconnect indirectly with other local carriers. Southern New England Tel. Co. v. Comcast Phone of Connecticut, Inc. et al., Docket No. 11-2332-cv (2d Cir. May 1, 2013).

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (the “Court” or “Second Circuit”) held, among other things, that when an ILEC provides transit services between two indirectly interconnecting CLECs, Section 251(c)(2) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (the “Act”), applies and the CLEC’s are entitled to transit rates based on Total Element Long-Run Incremental Cost (“TELRIC”). The Court’s opinion affirmed a decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut (“District Court”) which, in turn, upheld a Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control (“DPUC”) decision. The Court limited the direct application of its holding to the parties to the contract that was the subject of the suit – AT&T and Pocket Communications – but the implications of the opinion are much broader as ILECs have maintained for years that transit services do not fall within the scope of Section 251(c)(2) and are subject to market, not TELRIC, pricing.

Continue Reading Second Circuit Finds That ILEC Transit Service Is Governed by Section 251(c)(2) and Subject to Lower TELRIC Rates

Barbara Miller co-authored this post.

This week, the Fourth Circuit issued an important decision concerning the jurisdiction and role of federal courts in the interpretation and enforcement of state-approved Interconnection Agreements (“ICAs”).  In Central Telephone Co. v. Sprint Communications Co., the Fourth Circuit held that plaintiffs are not required to bring claims relating to the interpretation and enforcement of state-approved ICAs to a state commission before they can be heard in federal court.  Instead, the court ruled that a party may bring a claim for breach of contract in federal court directly.  This decision opens a new option for parties seeking to interpret and enforce ICAs, at least in the states within the Fourth Circuit (which encompasses Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia).  

Continue Reading Appeals Court Rules that Federal Courts May Hear Interconnection Agreement Claims in the First Instance

Jameson Dempsey co-authored this post. 

With the new year upon us, the FCC will soon be receiving comment on one of the “big picture” issues facing telecom regulation: addressing the evolution of the Public Switched Telephone Network (“PSTN”) from “legacy” time-division multiplexing (“TDM”) systems toward an Internet protocol (“IP”) based network.  The transition from the traditional PSTN to IP has been a hot topic at the Commission and within the industry, as consumers increasingly “cut the cord” on landline copper networks and rely on mobile wireless or IP-enabled communications technologies running on broadband networks.  However, consumer groups and small carriers have warned that in recognizing the inevitable transition toward IP, the FCC should not abdicate—and in some cases must increase—regulatory authority over communications networks. Later this month, the FCC will receive comment on two divergent petitions proposing responses to the transition. These petitions provide the first opportunity for the FCC to frame the debate over IP-enabled communications in Obama’s second administration.

Continue Reading FCC Opens the Year with A New Look at the Transition from TDM to IP Networks

Compliance with the FCC’s revised intercarrier compensation rules adopted in its USF/ICC Transformation Order continues to be a work in progress for many carriers. The rules have generated several waves of questions as the July 1, 2012, deadline for reducing certain intrastate terminating switched access rates fast approaches. On June 6, 2012, the Wireline Competition Bureau released an Order designed to answer a number of questions that had arisen regarding this transition. The Bureau clarified and revised a number of rules that had been troubling both carriers and state commissions as they tried to make sense of the FCC’s rules and comply with the transition requirements. Carriers preparing their July 1, 2012 tariff revisions should review this order to ensure their filings are consistent with the FCC rules.

Continue Reading Wireline Competition Bureau Clarifies and Revises the FCC’s Rules as Carriers Prepare to Make Transitional Intrastate Access Reciprocal Compensation Rate Reductions

Yesterday, the FCC released its proposed budget for fiscal year 2013 (beginning in October 2012).  The budget offers a few interesting insights into the balance of the FCC’s functions.  It also offers a preview of what to expect with the FCC’s regulatory fees, which are due in September of each year.  See below for more.

Continue Reading Tidbits from the FCC’s Proposed Budget

This post was drafted by Chip Yorkgitis.

On Friday, February 3, 2012, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau and Wireless Telecommunications Bureau jointly released an order revising and clarifying certain aspects of the sweeping universal service and intercarrier compensation reform order adopted last November. The clarifications address the rates applicable to VoIP-PSTN traffic, access stimulation

This morning, the FCC’s November 18, 2011 High-Cost USF and Intercarrier Reform Compensation Order was published in the Federal Register triggering an effective date of December 29, 2011 for all parts of the Order and rule changes adopted therein, except for the information collection requirements contained in some of the rules adopted.   Those information collection

Late yesterday, the FCC released the text of its USF Reform and Intercarrier Compensation Reform Order, which it adopted on October 27.  The FCC’s rules, among other things, transition terminating access charges to zero, apply access to VoIP-PSTN traffic, adopt rules addressing access stimulation (prevalent in free conferencing, for example), and tackling the problem of phantom traffic.  

The order is 759 pages long, with over 2,500 footnotes and 84 pages of rules.  As we warned, the impact of these rules on individual business plans is highly fact-specific.  We encourage you to contact your advisor to learn more. 

Continue Reading FCC Releases Text of Intercarrier Compensation Order