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Is Antislamming Enforcement Shifting to States?

Posted: 07/2002

Is Antislamming Enforcement
Shifting to States?

IF YOU BELIEVE RECENT REPORTS, YOU
might be tempted to think it’s safe to slam. The level of fines the FCC issues
for slamming has taken a big drop.

On the other hand, recent FCC fine
levels are the natural outcome of a process it has been pushing for the past few
years. Specifically, when the FCC issued its First Report & Order on the
slamming docket, it noted that states generally were faster and more efficient
at fining offending telecom companies. Remember it was the states — especially
California and Florida — that were handing out large fines to carriers, while
the FCC played catch up. It took the commission years, for example, to issue its
multimillion-dollar fine against Home Owners Long Distance.

Now that 35 or more states have
"opted-in" to enforce the FCC rules, it’s possible the federal
commission’s low fines might be a little encouragement for the last few states
to join.

So, is it safe to slam? Doubtful.
While fines — even at the state level — are the exception, they still can be
huge if the offender has raised the ire of state commissions. Reviewing slamming
enforcement during the past year or so, some million-dollar plus fines
(Florida), certification revocation (Georgia) and five-figure fines in states as
small as Maine, have been handed out.

Frankly, the smaller level of fines
we’ve seen in the past year is a function of the slowdown in telecom. With less
aggressive marketing there are fewer telemarketers and sales agents and,
therefore, fewer slamming incidents (although Maine reported an increase in
complaints from 2000 to 2001).

Since many states insist they are
enforcing the FCC and their own (sometimes conflicting) state rules, it’s
important for a carrier to keep its nose clean.

Service providers must keep abreast
of the changes in the rules. PHONE+ has reprinted the antislamming rules report
prepared annually by VoiceLog LLC below.

There’s not much change across the
states, but there are a few items worth noting.

  • Arizona has a proposed rule on
    an active docket. The Arizona Corporation Commission is proposing some
    amendments, but overall the rules look much like the FCC’s.

  • Ohio changed its rule to the
    FCC. Interestingly, the state’s slamming law covers telecom, natural gas and
    electricity. Ohio is the third state that provides for criminal penalties
    under extreme slamming cases.

  • Delaware, which had a rulemaking
    in the works for more than a year, issued its rules in December. The rules
    specifically reference the FCC’s regulations, so compliance should not be an
    issue.

For updates on state rules on
slamming, cramming, PIC freezes, CPNI and electric utility rules, check out
VoiceLog’s website at www.voicelog.com.
VoiceLog has begun posting the text of the individual states’ rules on its
website.

Jim Veilleux is president of
VoiceLog LLC, a provider of third-party verification to the telecommunications
and competitive utility industries.


Printable Chart of Antislamming Rules pg.1
Click Here for PDF

Source: Voice Log LLC


Printable Chart of Antislamming Rules pg.2
Click Here for PDF

Source: Voice Log LLC


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