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FCC Fines T-Mobile $40 Million for Deliberate Rural Call Completion Violations

Posted by Andrew Regitsky

Apr 20, 2018 10:00:00 AM

T-Mobile is in trouble again. Earlier this year the national wireless carrier was accused of refusing to provide direct connections with carriers as part of claims it was involved in access arbitrage schemes with intermediate carriers. That issue has yet to be settled. Now, the controversial company has agreed to pay $40 million to the U.S. Treasury as part of a Consent Decree with the FCC for inserting false ring tones in calls to rural customers that originated over its network. It should have been a lot more!

According to the Commission, carriers that originate calls for their customers are prohibited from “convey[ing] a ringing indication to the calling party until the terminating provider has signaled that the called party is being alerted to an incoming call, such as by ringing"  

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Topics: FCC, T-mobile, call completion

FCC Tries Again to Solve Rural Call Completion Problems

Posted by Andrew Regitsky

Apr 6, 2018 10:00:00 AM

It has been almost five years since the FCC began to systematically address the troubling inability consumers and businesses have completing calls to rural areas. These problems manifest themselves in various ways, including calls that are significantly delayed, no ring on the called party’s phone, or the caller hearing false ring tones or busy signals.

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Topics: FCC, clec

FCC Proposes Special Access Incentive Regulation for Rate-Of-Return ILECs

Posted by Andrew Regitsky

Mar 30, 2018 10:00:00 AM


Last year the FCC determined that price cap ILEC special access and packet services should be almost entirely deregulated with only DS1 and DS3 transport subject to price cap regulation if the ILEC failed a highly criticized "competitive" market test.  This regulatory scheme became effective on August 1, 2017 when the Business Data Services (BDS) Order took effect.

That Order put many rate-of-return (ROR) ILECs in a unique position.  More than 200 ROR ILECs now receive universal service support based on a cost model called the Alternative Connect America Fund Cost Model (ACAM).  In return for a fixed amount of support, these ILECs are required to meet a specified level of broadband deployment.  This method to recover Connect America Fund (CAF) dollars has become very popular among ROR carriers.  However, as a result, these LECS are no longer in the NECA Common Line Pool and remain subject to rate regulation only for their special access services.  Some parties sought to change that.

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Topics: ILECs, FCC, CLECs, commissions order, federal trade commission, Business Data Services, clec, regulatory updates, rate of return

FCC Settles Price Cap ILEC Tandem Transport Access Issue

Posted by Andrew Regitsky

Mar 23, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Last year's ILEC Annual Access Filings brought a lot of confusion to the industry. It was Year 6 in the transition to bill –and-keep for most terminating switched access charges, and it was an important step for the tandem-switched transport rates of price cap ILECs.

According to part 51.907(g)(2) of the FCC's rules, effective July 1, 2017, price cap ILECs were required to:

Establish, for interstate and intrastate terminating traffic traversing a tandem switch that the terminating carrier or its affiliates owns, Tandem-Switched Transport Access Service rates no greater than $0.0007 per minute.

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Topics: ILECs, FCC, CLECs, commissions order, federal trade commission

Net Neutrality: Congress Simply will not Compromise

Posted by Andrew Regitsky

Mar 16, 2018 10:00:00 AM

It has been a frustrating few weeks for those of us who want to put the issue of Internet regulation behind us. On February 22, 2018 the Restoring Internet Freedom Order was finally published in the Federal Register. While that would normally provide an effective date for the Order, it did not, because the FCC is still waiting for final approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) which could take several more months.

The Federal Register publication did allow parties to file appeals of the Order and many were filed by states, consumer groups, and tech companies. Appeals were filed in several courts, with the Ninth Circuit Court in San Francisco set to hear the case after winning a random draw. All the appeals have been consolidated into one, and a schedule to hear the case is pending.

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Topics: Net Neutrality, supreme court, FCC, internet freedom, internet regulation, internet traffic, open internet preservation act, congress

Industry Trashes FCC Plan to Limit Lifeline to Facilities Providers

Posted by Andrew Regitsky

Mar 9, 2018 10:00:00 AM

I admit it, I admire Ajit Pai. The FCC Chairman speaks and writes brilliantly, can charm any crowd and is steadfast in his belief that telecom regulation is harmful even while facing incredible public pressure, and sadly, even death threats.

However, after observing Pai for several years now, it is obvious he is his own worst enemy. His attempts to move directly from point A to point Z on every issue, infuriate the industry, while a compromise at point P would have enabled him to reach most of his goals without the public angst.

For example, he could have eliminated the most troublesome aspect of net neutrality by simply reclassifying broadband Internet access as an information service. However, he went too far by eliminating the "bright line" rules forbidding blocking, throttling and paid prioritization of Internet traffic.

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Topics: ajit pai, FCC, telecom

Ninth Circuit Decision is Big Victory for FTC and FCC

Posted by Andrew Regitsky

Mar 2, 2018 10:09:02 AM

In a February 26, 2018 Opinion, the full Ninth Circuit Court in San Francisco gave the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) a huge victory when it found that a company is regulated as if it were a common carrier based on a specific "activity" rather than by "status." In other words, a non-common carrier cannot become a common carrier and escape FTC regulation for its non-common carrier services simply by providing a single common carrier service. Instead, as per usual, its common carrier services would be regulated by the FCC, but its non-common carrier services would fall under FTC authority.   

The significance of this is clear. The non-common carrier services such as broadband Internet access service provided by ISPs like AT&T and Verizon will be regulated under section 5 of the FTC rules, as the FCC envisioned in its recently released Restoring Internet Freedom Order.

Here is the background for this important Opinion.

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Topics: terminating traffic, direct connections, wireless, wireless carriers, bill-and-keep, small providers, service providers, Inteliquent, wholesale traffic, AT&T, ILECs, inter-carrier compensation, clec, CLECs, terminating access charges, FCC, IXC, switched access

Can a CLEC Force an IXC to Buy Switched Access

Posted by Andrew Regitsky

Feb 23, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Industry comments are due on March 14, 2018, involving one of the weirdest filings to come before the FCC in a long time. In a Petition for Expedited Declaratory Ruling (Petition) filed by South Dakota Networks (SDN) on February 7, 2018 in Docket 18-41, SDN requests the Commission to issue a declaratory ruling asserting that in a dispute between it and Northern Valley Communications, Inc. (NVC) involving interstate switched access traffic:

A contract between SDN and AT&T, negotiated to terminate large volumes of traffic originally bound to a CLEC (NVC) engaged in access stimulation is lawful; and,CLECs, such as NVC, enjoy no exclusive right to transport terminating traffic to their end offices (or elsewhere). Moreover, the filing of a federal tariff by a CLEC, does not confer a right to compel other carriers to use the tariffed services.

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Topics: terminating traffic, direct connections, wireless, wireless carriers, bill-and-keep, small providers, service providers, Inteliquent, wholesale traffic, AT&T, ILECs, inter-carrier compensation, clec, CLECs, terminating access charges, FCC, IXC, switched access, terminating switched access, federal tariff

AT&T Wants Immediate Action on 8YY Query Charges

Posted by Andrew Regitsky

Feb 16, 2018 10:06:22 AM

Even with inter-carrier compensation reform, some bad actors continue to abuse the remaining price differences in switched access charges to enrich themselves. These arbitrage opportunities exist because rural ILECs were not required to reduce terminating tandem-switched transport to bill-and-keep maintaining their access revenues and originating switched access charges were never reformed at all by the FCC.

On the terminating side, some LECs continue to contract out with enterprises that generate large numbers of terminating calls and split the excess access revenues. Next week, we will discuss this issue of access stimulation (or traffic pumping) and review a current case where the FCC will determine whether IXCs must utilize the tariffs of LECs engaged in such a practice.

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Topics: terminating traffic, direct connections, wireless, wireless carriers, bill-and-keep, small providers, service providers, Inteliquent, wholesale traffic, AT&T, 8yy, 8yy query charges, ILECs, inter-carrier compensation, clec, CLECs, terminating access charges, FCC

FCC Claims It Has "Fixed" Broadband Deployment Issues

Posted by Andrew Regitsky

Feb 9, 2018 9:45:00 AM

Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act requires the FCC to determine and report annually on “whether advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.” The Commission began this year's determination last August when it released a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) in Docket 17-199. That NOI received a tremendous amount of negative industry attention when the Commission made three controversial proposals:

First, the Commission proposed to make the availability of either fixed or mobile broadband in an area sufficient to meet the requirement that broadband is available;

Second, the Commission proposed to continue the current speed benchmark of 25 Mbps download, 3 Mbps upload (25 Mbps/3 Mbps) for fixed broadband, while establishing for the first time a mobile speed benchmark of 10 Mbps/1 Mbps.

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Topics: CCMI, FCC, ISPs, CRA, Open Internet, congress, congressional review, commissions order, internet freedom order, internet freedom, Broadband, broadband deployment advisory committee, wireless broadband, broadband report, telecommunications act, broadband deployment