FCC To Investigate Local Access Fees
July 2, 2007
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said on Thursday that it would investigate the local access fees that the 39 rural phone companies are allegedly charging long distance carriers for connecting calls in their areas.
The regulators are set to look into allegations by long distance carriers that some rural phone companies have been overcharging them by illegally boosting access fees and artificially pumping up phone traffic.
Long-distance phone companies cannot block customers from dialing free chat lines to avoid incurring charges imposed by local carriers, federal regulators said.
Impetus for this investigation were complaints by carriers Sprint Nextel Corp., Qwest Communications International Inc., and AT&T Inc, who, collectively, have filed suits against some 30 rural telcos who, the national carriers believe, are charging higher-per-minute connecting rates than the norm to long distance companies for connecting to their local networks.
Reuters reports, AT&T sent a letter to the FCC on April 4, 2007, complaining of this overcharging, as well as what the company believes are practices by local phone companies that involve payments to pornographic chat lines that would use assigned phone numbers to drive up traffic that would require these apparently lucrative connections.
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