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Sprint Lawsuit: Verizon, Windstream's PAETEC Unlawfully Billed Access Charges

By Josh Long
May 19, 2014 - News

In its capacity as an intermediate carrier, Sprint claims that Verizon and other local phone companies are improperly billing the carrier for switched-access charges on wireless calls.  

The defendants’ behavior is contrary to the law and is in violation of their interstate and/or intrastate tariffs, Sprint alleged in a May 13 lawsuit filed in New York.

Sprint wants to be refunded millions of dollars and to get a declaration that the defendants cease and desist the practice of assessing charges on wireless – otherwise known as commercial mobile radio service (CMRS) – calls that begin and end in the same “Major Trading Area."

Since 1996, the Federal Communications Commission has ruled that such calls are local calls that are not subject to access charges, and the federal courts have upheld the agency’s decisions, Sprint declared. According to a 2011 FCC order that Sprint referenced, such local “intraMTA" calls are subject to reciprocal compensation rather than switched-access charges.

Wireless calls, Sprint explained, can be exchanged directly between a wireless carrier and a local exchange carrier such as Verizon or the call crosses the network of an intermediate carrier such as Sprint. As an intermediate carrier, Sprint carries such calls over so-called Feature D trunk groups.

“Federal courts have uniformly held that, irrespective of whether CMRS originating or CMRS terminating calls traverse an intermediate carrier, and irrespective of whether the same calls are transported over a Feature Group D facility, the aforementioned rules apply, and intraMTA calls are never subject to switched access charges," Sprint declared in the 22-page lawsuit.

Sprint has named as defendants Verizon New England, Verizon New York, PAETEC Communications, Berkshire Telephone Corp. and Taconic Telephone Corp. Verizon and Windstream’s PAETEC declined comment. Berkshire Telephone and Taconic Telephone, which are both owned by FairPoint Communications, also declined comment.

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