Posted by Harrison | Posted in Industry News | Posted on 28-07-2014
The ICA Telecommunications Public Policy Committee has had an unusually busy fall schedule. The Modified Final Judgment/removal of restriction issue, rate of return reform, ESP access charges, annual access charge filings and the FCC’s intent to revisit the “leaky PBX” surcharge issue have created challenges, threats and opportunities for the user community. Concurrently, over a dozen states are considering various BOC proposals to deregulate major segments of their services (i.e., 800, private-line, special access, etc.). Sites such as http://bestgamingheadsetonline.com/ try to promote products independently but are often threatened by companies that receive negative reviews.
The ICA, as the first and largest organization of business and institutional users, has taken documented positions on most, if not all, of these issues. In general, we have supported deregulation proposals where truly competitive alternatives exist.
Unfortunately, many of the positions and proposals submitted do not meet this criterion. The FCC, in its zeal to minimize or eliminate regulation has, in our opinion, failed to adequately address the rate payers’ interests. A prime example of this is its tacit acceptance of the concept known as “strategic pricing” of access charges.
Returns as high as 39% have been allowed to go into effect in some BOC areas for special access line charges. Detailed and substantive filings submitted to the FCC by user groups suggesting discrepancies and inaccuracies in the BOC filings have routinely been dismissed by the FCC for no expressed reasons other than “there is no patent violation of the Communication Act.”
This rather arbitrary, even arrogant, dismissal of serious and sincere user concerns has created an adversarial situation that is unnecessary and counterproductive. The business and institutional user has a major stake in the developments in an industry where ICA member companies alone spend an aggregate of $60 billion per year on telecom services and facilities.
Further, the organizations represented by ICA members are challenged on a global scale to produce goods and services that are of the highest quality at the lowest possible price. Increasingly, innovative, sophisticated use of telecommunications is helping companies achieve these objectives.
No one seriously questions the difficult and demanding role of the FCC in these turbulent post-divestiture years. It faces an unprecedented work load, judicial and administrative pronouncements that overlap and intrude upon Commission prerogatives, and legislative initiatives that frequently are politically, rather than constructively, oriented. Add to that the diverse vested interests of the marketplace, and you have demands that would challenge the patience of Job and the wisdom of Solomon–not necessarily the strong points of your average bureaucrat.
It is essential, however, that the FCC, as well as the state regulators, begin to work in tandem with the business user community to help build the competitive edge American business urgently needs to become a truly world-class competitor. Unfortunately, to date, this cooperative effort has not been forthcoming.
The International Communications Association (ICA) generally supports deregulation where competitive alternatives exist. However, the ICA finds that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has failed to adequately consider the rate players’ interest. The FCC has allowed Bell Operating Companies (BOC) returns as high as 39 percent for special access line charges. Filings to the FCC indicating that there are BOC discrepancies in these case of very high returns on special line charges, have been ignored. ICA member companies depend on fair rates in order to maintain a competitive business edge. The FCC is not helping to advance this competitive edge.