On the heels of the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) announcement that intercarrier compensation reform is on the FCC’s tentative agenda for its upcoming open meeting, prepaid calling card providers have stepped up lobbying efforts to educate and inform FCC staffers regarding intercarrier compensation disputes that impact prepaid calling card providers. Specifically, a group of prepaid providers, including IDT Telecom, Total Call International, Inc., and STi PrePaid, LLC, met recently with Commissioner legal advisors and Wireline Competition Bureau staffers regarding intercarrier compensation disputes between prepaid providers and Local Exchange Carriers (“LECs”) regarding the use of local telephone numbers by prepaid calling card providers to connect their customers to the calling card service.
Prepaid providers have been embroiled in litigation with AT&T, which claims it is owed originating access charges on local calls from prepaid provider customers to the prepaid calling card platform. In their meetings with FCC legal advisors and staffers, the prepaid providers highlighted this litigation as driving the need for clarity from the FCC.
The prepaid providers urged the Commission to confirm that (1) there is no law or FCC regulation prohibiting prepaid calling card providers from purchasing local service from competitive LECs to provide their customers with local telephone numbers to reach the prepaid calling card service; and (2) there has been no FCC decision that these arrangements require the prepaid calling card service provider to pay originating access charges to a third party LEC.
Because a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing intercarrier compensation and universal service reform is likely to be released at the FCC’s February 8th Open Meeting, further lobbying efforts by prepaid providers are expected, and are likely to be met by strong resistance from AT&T and other LECs in the coming months.
The ex parte letter filed by the prepaid providers is available for review here.
Clients with comments or questions regarding this Advisory should contact the attorney responsible for their account.