Detariff or Not from TMI. . . .To the extent that it is optional, I can make a pretty strong case either way. Tariffs are still a great way to clearly establish the relationship between service providers and their customers. A tariff provides both parties with many protections that might be tricky to negotiate in the form of a contract. A tariff protects the carrier from certain liabilities and lawsuits. But tariffs can also be a drain on resources and a drag on product and pricing changes.


Where de-tariffed, the carrier should ensure these bases are covered:
  • Provide customer notice for unilateral changes to rates, terms or conditions that have a material negative impact on your customers.
  • Keep an archive of the rates, terms and conditions as they change so that you can produce documentation of the history of changes. At the federal level you need 30 months worth of archives.


Remember that the absence of a tariff does not mean that the carrier no longer needs to pay attention to changes in regulations that used to require a tariff change. For example, if the interest rate on deposits is changed, it is changed even if it a tariff change is not required. Also remember that common carriers still have continuing regulatory obligations, such as providing service without unreasonable discrimination.


Are there enough states that allow de-tariffing to warrant the effort of setting up safeguards, service agreements and notice procedures? Currently a long distance reseller without operator services is only required to file tariffs or post price lists in 13 states. A facilities-based CLEC serving complex business customers, only needs local tariffs or price lists in 24 states. It is a good time for carriers to take a close look at current policies to either update the rationale for maintaining tariffs and/or to develop a migration path for a post-tariff environment.


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