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The Internet

FCC rules ISP calls aren't to be charged as long distance 34

There appears to have been some confusion about what the FCC actually said... AgentOrangeJuice also submitted a detailed MacObserver Correction Wired also states that internet access by 7-digit number will remain a local call.
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FCC rules ISP calls aren't to be charged as long distance

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  • As I understand it, you are correct in the charges applied. But nobody actually pays the money. From everything I've seen and read, they keep it on paper, and don't actually say to each other "Hey, look. You owe me $2,000,000".

    That wouldn't be in their best interest. Instead, they collect "connections" from each other. Also, I heard that there was some manner of conflict recently because some of the lesser-known long-distance carriers (the kind that name themselves I Don't Care so that when a person at a pay phone says "I don't care" to the operator, they are charged a ton by the I Dont' Care Phone Company) have been causing trouble with the big-time companies, because all of the traffic is in one direction, and theoretically, the tiny companies could cash-in all of the connections accrued and really stick it to the AT&T's.

  • Actually, I should have explained myself a little more clearly in this reply. (I posted another message elsewhere in regard to this most recent article, explaining the way reciprocation works between phone companies).

    While reading through messages in the original article, people seemed to get the idea that people were going to see an additional bill on their monthly phone bill. I know of nobody who has ever suggested that such a method be used (it isn't even feasible.

    I should have also mentioned that the new information as of this evening changes things a bit, but I was speaking aside the current revelations.

  • In Maryland as well, Hell Atlantic has everyone dialing 10-digit numbers for all numbers. This is thanks to multiple area codes overlying the same areas (410/443 in the Baltimore area & east, and 301/240 DC area & west).
  • I didn't realize anyone was under the impression that the declaration of the traffic being long-distance would result in additional charges to their phone bills. That wouldn't make sense in the least, because the phone company doesn't necessarily know what the hell you're doing.

    As I read it (and have always expected as a final outcome) was a charge levied against ISP's by the phone companies. In turn, that charge would be passed onto the customers-- via the ISP's service bill.

    In other words, the only thing I saw as an error in the original article on Slashdot was the way some of the reader's misunderstood it.

    If we're lucky, the long-distance issue will be handled much like the reciprocal "currency" that line-providers charge each other for use of each other's lines. They never exchange cash, but they exchange tabs. Sort of like carpooling: You drive me to work Monday in your car, so I do the driving, in my car the next day.

    Regardless of what the FCC or any of these articles say, you aren't out of the woods yet. If the phone companies go after your ISP, you can bet your ISP will go after you. It's just a matter of when and how much.

  • I believe that phone companies would still treat the 10 digit number as a local call (It would suck if they didn't)
  • The metro areas where you have to use a 10 digit for a local call are aberations. THe seven digit rule being refered to is a miosnomer for a local call, so metro 10 diogit calls that are defined as local will still count as local.
    THis decision has zero to do with ISP's, it has to do with business contracts between phone companies for reciprocation. Nothing an end user (and in this an ISP is as much an end user as you are) will ever really see.
  • I sure wish the facts had been ascertained before I wrote that scathing email to the FCC...
  • GOOD !!!
  • what about the people that have to dial a ten digit number even though there isp is just a mile or so away? does this seem unfair?
  • That isn't exactly true at the moment.

    Although I find it inevitable that those decent and ethical customer-oriented fellows at your local telephone company will come to the conclusion that the best way to handle their business is to charge ISP's for every second they are tying up a phone-line for data transfers, the recent declaration is in regard to reciprocation.

    Here's how most inter-state long-distance transactions happen:

    John picks up the telephone and makes a long distance call to Mary, who lives across the country. John's telephone company is getting paid by him for the service. So who is paying the company that provides telephone service to Mary?

    The answer is: John's telephone company. Calls are tracked between companies, like a bar tab. Only, nobody is ever expected to pay up in cash. They pay each other in 'connections'.

    John's telephone company may connect ten million phone calls every year that orignate from the company Mary uses. So Mary's company will reciprocate by allowing an equal amount of connections for John's.

    I'm hoping I made sense, there.

    In other words, this is all going on in the background. We aren't talking about making each other pay (or ISP's pay)... yet. We're talking about one phone company saying "Hey, look... we connected 100 million calls for your customers, made over the internet. We would like to be compensated for this."

    But that doesn't mean that they won't go after ISP's and the 'little-guy' as soon as they can get away with it.

  • by chuck ( 477 )
    You guys scared me for a moment...
  • Thanks for getting the news out! We were researching this for our site and ran across that explaination as well. I was just about to submit it. :-)
  • The phone companies ARE being compensated for the calls made both to ISPs and for the data sent between ISPs. The caller pays for (either metered or inclusive charges) the calls using the local loop to the ISP, in the same way that they pay for any other call within their local calling area. The ISPs then rent leased circuits to transfer the data between themselves. Where do they get these leased circuits from? - That's right - from the phone companies!
  • As was noted in many of yesterday's e-mails, the FCC decision -- on the surface -- does not appear to affect consumers. But as most of the folks who read the FCC statement on the FCC website noted, there are a number of issues left unresolved by the ruling which are why many of us cried FOUL!!!

    By analogy, this is sort of like a city saying "we took down the levy by the river because it hasn't flooded in ten years."
    Follow the progression:

    1. The RBOCs, etc. withdraw from their agreements as they expire, or litigated free from, etc., which cuts the revenue stream to the smaller ILEC.
    2. The ILEC, in order to maintain profitability, (which is, after all why they are in business as well) must pass on the new charges to the ISP.
    3. The ISP, in order to maintain profitability, must pass on those charges to the consumer.

    This doesn't even count the fact that most of the big carriers are ISP's in their own right. So the lack of FCC decision opens the door for the smaller ISP's to essentially be squeezed to death by the bigger companies, and invites taxation and litigation at the state level.

    Cry foul, and keep crying!

  • They'll win sooner or later. They want to tax those ISP calls just like they want to tax all internet commerce. Also, Sengan posted it so don't set your heart on voice modems.
  • Actually, my "scathing" email *did* get a response, and a very nice one at that... Here's what one of the FCC commissioners wrote back to me:
    Thank you for your message regarding the Commission's decision on reciprocal compensation. I agree with you that it would be bad policy for the FCC to treat calls to ISPs the same way it treats calls to long distance carriers. Any suggestion that the FCC has intentionally or inadvertently imposed per-minute charges on Internet use is false, and I regret that some have portrayed our decision that way. The FCC's longstanding "hands off the Internet" policy has worked well to promote the growth of the Internet, and I see no reason to change that.

    Gloria Tristani

    I'm impressed at the response and I feel bad that I jumped on the bandwagon based on some bogus news.
  • Some friends and I were talking about this, and we came to the conclusion that if Joe Average's ISP fees go up at all because of this, they may go up by $5 or so per month across the board, but it's doubtful we'll see by-the-minute rates. Why? Because it's painfully clear...the customers don't want that. ISPs would be shooting themselves in the foot to go to hourly pricing--even AOL finally gave up on it. They'll charge everyone a bit more before they do that.

    People see "long distance" and immediately start to panic, sheesh. If this is going to affect any of us at all, it'll do so indirectly, by our ISPs getting charged a bit more.
  • The FCC said:

    "The Commission declared that Internet traffic is jurisdictionally mixed and appears to be largely interstate in nature. But the decision preserves the rule that exempts the Internet and other information services from interstate access charges. This means that those consumers who continue to access the Internet by dialing a seven-digit number will not incur long distance charges when they do so. In a notice of proposed rulemaking, the Commission also asked for comment on proposals governing future carrier-to-carrier compensation for handling this traffic."

    (Emphasis Mine)

    The FCC is trying to blur the lines between ISPs and telephone companies. This is a bad thing to do. Once this traffic hits an Internet connected network, it should not involve the telephone companies. Unless, of course, the FCC wants to severely regulate ISPs.

    So what's in these people's minds? Why would they want to blur the lines between normal telecommunications and network data communications? Well, taxes come to mind. The Internet is the greatest thing since sliced bread. If you're not on the Internet, you're out of the loop so everyone and their brother (and grandmother) are jumping on. So of course the government wants to get a piece of the action. What better way than to microtax access time?

    What's in it for the RBOCs? They want to blur these lines because their networks weren't designed for the load that 12 hour data connections cause. I work for an ISP and we've had tons of problems with USWest. They came out and sold us a DS3 with 250 trunks for dialup Internet access and their local central office can't handle that many simultaneous calls through their digital switch. When they reach capacity, they give a fast busy, a regular busy, or an "All circuits are busy" message. One of our users even called to ask them about this and USWest told them it was our equipment!

    Needless to say, we have a lawsuit pending and Electric Lightwave dialtone coming in.

    So everyone who breathed a sigh of relief when they saw the newer Slashdot article and some positive-sounding articles on news sites had better think to themselves what the implications are if these hard lines are blurred and data versus normal telecommunications become considering the same. When you access a site in Europe, do you really want to be charged a tax on that because "hey, it's not interstate, it's international!".

    That's what's coming down the pike if we don't bring it to a head now and say, no yell, "NO!". The phone company should be out of the picture once that call reaches it's destination, which is my local network access server. It's none of their business from there and it's really none of the FCC's business either. We already pay Telco for the local loop to our upstream network provider and that *DOES* get assessed interstate access charges. How many angles do they get to charge us from?

    The thing is, the RBOCs don't care. They all have their own little ISP projects going on. They'll be more than happy to *pay themselves*. It's the smaller providers who will get hurt by this. Hell, maybe no one cares. If you want network access from the telephone companies and the cable companies only, you'll be all for this. If you want competition and choice, you won't. All these statements from the FCC do is set a precedent that dial-up calls to access the Internet are interstate in nature and eventually they *WILL* stop being nice about it and will give in to the telco lobbyists.

    I know what you're thinking. Modems are dinosaurs and they need to be phased out anyway. Well, sorry to say but they're going to be around for a while. It's cheap and that's bottom line. If we're stuck with RBOC ISPs, DSL, and Cable, you'll be looking at the "haves" and the "have nots". The "have nots" may be able to afford access through the RBOC ISPs because those ISPs can eat the costs. So, all the small ISPs go out of business.

    I didn't each touch on the subject of Voice Over IP. I cringe when I think about the FCC's plans for this.

    So, when should I start looking for a new job?

  • Perhaps if someone could post a clearly labeled diagram with a step-by-step description of how the phone system works and who is being charged for what along the way. Then describe what the FCC just announced (i.e. which leg of the journey is now going to be considered long distance) and what the ramifications are. That way, we could all see exactly where the problems are and there would be no misunderstandings or misinterpretations. Just a thought, but if someone has enough knowledge about the phone system to do this, it would probably be a great help to those of us who don't know the phone system so well.

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