The Federal Communications Commission (“Commission”) adopted an Order with new rules aimed at eliminating the financial incentives for intermediate access providers and access- stimulating LECs to increase tandem switching and transport charges by inefficiently routing high- volume, purposely inflated, call traffic to free call centers, chat lines and certain other services. A Public Notice regarding the new rule changes can be viewed here. Since the Commission has yet to release the final Order, the below discussion is based on the proposed Order that was circulated prior to today. 

When The New Order And Rules Becomes Effective 

The Order and the rules, except the notice provisions, which require approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), will become effective 30 days after publication of the summary of this Order in the Federal Register. The new notice provisions in the rules become effective within 45 days of PRA approval. 

Carriers Impacted By The New Rule Will Be Responsible For Access Charges 

The new rule will require carriers determined to be involved in access stimulation to be financially responsible for the tariffed tandem switching and transport service access charges associated with the delivery of traffic from an IXC to the access-stimulating LEC end office or its functional equivalent. In order to determine whether a carrier is involved in access stimulation and, therefore, responsible for the tariffed tandem switching and transport services charges, the FCC revised the rules by expanding the definition of “access stimulation” to include situations in which the access-stimulating phone company does not have a revenue sharing agreement with a conference calling, chat line, or similar service, but has an unusually high ratio of inbound calling traffic as compared to outbound calling traffic. The Commission’s proposed Order contained the following revised rule: 

(1) It has an access revenue sharing agreement and has either an interstate terminating-to- originating traffic ratio of at least 3:1 in a calendar month, or has had more than a 100 percent growth in interstate originating and/or terminating switched access minutes of use in a month compared to the same month in the preceding year or; 

(2) The LEC has an interstate terminating-to-originating traffic ratio of at least 6:1 in a calendar month. 

GVNW worked with other groups to increase the traffic ratio trigger so that LECs that are not access stimulating would not be labeled as such. When the actual Order is released we will know if the ratios have changed and will provide additional information at that time. 

Access Stimulating LECs Must Provide Notice To Affected Intermediate Access Providers and IXCs and File With The FCC 

Once the notice provision are effective, LECs engaged in access stimulation are required to notify affected intermediate access providers and IXCs of their status as access stimulators and of their acceptance of financial responsibility for the tariffed tandem and transport switched access charges. Further, access-stimulating LECs must also publicly file a record of their access- stimulating status and acceptance of financial responsibility in the FCC’s Access Arbitrage docket (WC Docket No. 18-155) on the same day that they issue notice to any intermediate access providers or IXCs. 

This 45-day tariffing and notice time period will begin to run for new access-stimulating LECs from the time they meet the definition of a LEC engaged in access stimulation. 

When A Carrier Is Deemed No Longer Engaging In Access Stimulation 

A LEC will continue to be engaging in Access Stimulation until under (1) above, the carrier terminates all revenue sharing agreements and its terminating-to-originating traffic ratio falls below 6:1 or; under (2) above, the carrier’s interstate terminating-to-originating traffic ratio falls below 6:1 for six consecutive months, and it does not have a revenue sharing agreement. 

GVNW will continue to review the Order and will be providing carriers with additional information regarding the new rules requiring access-stimulating LECs to take responsibility for access charges and to provide notice to the FCC and intermediate access providers and IXCs. 

Please contact your GVNW Consultant or Steve Gatto (830.895.7226), sgatto@gvnw.com with any additional questions you may have about the new access arbitrage Order.