TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: USTA Sends Strange Letter to Wal-Mart

Re: USTA Sends Strange Letter to Wal-Mart

Marcus Didius Falco (
Sat, 25 Dec 2004 23:46:09 -0500

Jack Decker <Jack Decker@address withheld> on Fri, 24 Dec 2004
12:32:59 -0500 wrote about USTA Sends Strange Letter to Wal-Mart

> "In this latest attempt to avoid paying what it owes, AT&T has
> employed a two-part scheme. In the first part, AT&T claims that
> because it briefly diverts long-distance calls between two towns in
> the same state to an out-of-state 800 platform, the company can avail
> itself of the lower rates carriers charge for interstate calls rather
> than paying the higher rates owed to local telecom providers for
> intrastate calls.

Many years ago big companies in California would route their
point-to-point private lines or "tie lines" through a PBX in an office
in Nevada. This was a "rusty switch" in that it didn't actually switch
the traffic. Still, it entitled the companies to pay interstate
rates. The FCC has ALWAYS taken a very strict view on what is
interstate traffic. Since the FCC is also trying to lower per-minute
access charges, AT&T will probably prevail

> The second part of the scheme involves playing a
> brief audio clip promoting companies like Wal-Mart and SAMS
> CLUB. AT&T claims that by including this brief audio clip, calls
> placed using these cards are no longer phone calls but are instead
> 'enhanced' services which have no obligation to support
> universal service, the joint industry fund that ensures affordable,
> reliable telecommunications services for rural and fixed-income
> Americans as well as for connecting schools and libraries to the
> Internet."

The definition of "enhanced services" has been a mess for
years. "Time" and "Weather" services provided by the phone company
came under the definition of "enhanced" and had to be exempted from
the FCC's rules many years ago, even before the divestiture.

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