On February 4, 2011, the Iowa Utilities Board (Board) released its Order Denying Requests for Reconsideration, approximately eighteen months after several local exchange carriers (LECs) challenged the Final Order issued in Qwest Communications Corp. v. Superior Telephone Cooperative, et al., Docket No. FCU-07-2. The Board reaffirmed the findings of fact and conclusions of law in the Final Order in all material respects. To view a copy of the Order on Reconsideration, click here.
This complaint case arose in February 2007 when Qwest, later joined by Sprint and AT&T, challenged the LECs’ practice of billing terminating switched access charges to interexchange carriers (IXCs) for completing calls to the conference calling companies that the LECs serve. In September 2009, the Board released its Final Order in the case, holding that the conference calling companies are not “end users” under the LECs’ intrastate switched access tariffs, and therefore the IXCs are not required to pay terminating access charges for calls to those companies.
The Order on Reconsideration reiterates the Board’s finding that the conference calling companies did not “subscribe” to local exchange service, and therefore were not “end users” under the LECs’ local tariffs. The Board further held that although the LECs may have attempted to create Individual Case Basis (ICB) arrangements via separate contracts with the conference calling companies, those services do not constitute local exchange service. On this point, the Board stated that ICB contracts may not be used to create “wholesale exceptions for favored customers.”
The Board also reiterated its finding that the LECs and conference calling companies are “business partners” under Iowa law. As such, the Board held, the conference calling companies cannot be deemed “end users” of the LECs’ service. The Board further found that the term “end user’s premises” in the LECs’ access tariffs require that calls terminate to “a building or buildings that is owned, leased, or otherwise controlled by the end user,” and thus calls terminated to the conference calling companies collocated within LEC buildings are not compensable under the LECs’ access tariffs.
The Board now intends to examine the IXCs’ calculations of the access charges they were billed, and will order the LECs to refund some amount of those charges.