• On August 18, 2010, the US District Court for the Western District of Kentucky resolved a dispute between TracFone and the Kentucky Commercial Mobile Radio Service Emergency Telecommunications Board (CMRS Board) over the appropriate amount and extent of 911 service fees that TracFone was obligated to collect and remit from customers who bought service directly from TracFone as well as customers who bought services through a third party like Wal-Mart. While acknowledging that the statute did not appear to be written for the prepaid wireless service business model – the statute requires carriers to include the fee on “normal monthly billing[s]” which does not happen in the prepaid context – the court ruled that TracFone is not excused from the obligation to collect and remit the fees. The court ordered TracFone to remit 911 service fees due from all its customers from November 2003 through July 12, 2006, and from all its direct customers from July 12, 2006 through September 2009. TracFone need not, however, remit payments for its non-direct customers for that latter period until the CMRS Board defines the proper method of collection. Commonwealth of Kentucky Commercial Mobile Radio Serv. Emergency Telecomms. Bd. v. Tracfone Wireless, Inc., No. 3:08-CV-660-H (W.D. Ky.).
  • On August 17, 2010, the State of Michigan Court of Appeals reversed, in part, a Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) order regarding the manner in which the rural incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) members of the Michigan Exchange Carriers Association measure exchange usage and pay access charges based on that usage. Verizon North, Inc. appealed from the order, arguing that the PSC’s decision violated a 2005 Michigan statute. The court of appeals agreed. It explained that “[t]he PSC reasoned that Verizon was in a better position than the ILECs to obtain carrier identification information, and that if Verizon failed to do so, it could be billed for service provided by the ILECs for the unidentified calls.” It concluded that “[t]here is no dispute that Verizon is not originating calls that it forwards to the ILECs. Accordingly, Verizon cannot be deemed the provider that shall pay the tariffed rate for termination of the call. Rather, as MCL 484.2305a(1)(b) states, Verizon’s statutory duty as a forwarding provider is expressly limited to ‘transmit[ing] the telephone number of the party originating the call to the extent such information has been provided by the originating carrier.’ There is no evidence that Verizon has not complied with this statutory directive.” Verizon North, Inc. v. Mich. Pub. Serv. Comm’n, No. 282051.