Thursday, June 28, 2007

FCC Declares Carrier Call Blocking Unlawful Self-Help Remedy in Access Charge Dispute

The FCC issued an order stating that carriers may not resort to the "self-help" remedy of blocking calls to avoid potentially inflated termination charges resulting from alleged access stimulation activities. The FCC said its action affirms that all customers will continue to be able to connect with anyone on the network that they so choose.

Numerous local exchange carriers (LECs) and consumers have expressed concern about the blocking or potential blocking of interexchange calls that terminate with certain local exchange carriers as a form of self help to resolve disputes concerning the access rates of these local exchange carriers.

To address concerns expressed by long-distance and wireless companies, the FCC suspended the tariffs of 39 rural carriers due to substantial questions raised about the lawfulness of the rates filed, in light of possible efforts by the carriers to stimulate long-distance access traffic.

  • On June 15, 2007, 29 carriers that were participating in the National Exchange Carrier Association (NECA) traffic-sensitive tariffs filed individual tariffs under section 61.39 of the Commission rules. Qwest, Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint Nextel filed objections to these filings, alleging that it is likely that these tariffs will result in unjust and unreasonable rates. The complaining carriers assert the recent conduct of current section 61.39 carriers similarly situated to those that recently made such tariff filings raises serious questions regarding whether such carriers are likely to enter into arrangements for the purpose of increasing their terminating access minutes significantly.