I’ve seen this very frequently when it comes to the 800 Query charge.
Let me be very clear on this – the FCC has not capped the rate CLECs can charge for 800 Queries. CLECs do not have to benchmark against the ILEC for 800 Query charges. This is not one of those gray areas where the orders and rules just fail to nail an issue down nice and tight.
It’s not like everyone just forgot about the query in the midst of all those more important, MOU-based access elements. The carriers raised the issue multiple times. They were, at times, almost begging for the FCC to include the query within the benchmark mechanism. One carrier emphasized that “failing to address toll-free query charges would leave a gaping hole in the Commission’s efforts to curb excessive access charges.” The FCC listened to these requests – and denied them. As my real estate agent was fond of telling me, “askin’ ain’t gettin’.”
Now, if a carrier wants to challenge the appropriateness of a particular query rate, that’s a discussion I’m happy to have. I’m even happier to have that discussion after they have acknowledged the lawfulness of my tariffed charge! I freely recognize that the FCC said CLECs should “not look to this category of tariffed charges to make up for access revenues that the benchmark system denies them.” That’s a strong hint that there is some unspecified upper boundary on the query charge. But, don’t be intimidated by carriers that draw an artificial line with the FCC’s name next to it and then accuse of you of crossing it.
Watch for Part 3 next week – What exactly is local switching?