FCC: Three Telecom Carriers Could Forfeit Over $2 million for USF, Regulatory Violations
By TED GLANZER
TMCnet Communications and Broadband Columnist
The Federal Communications Commission on Monday issued notices against three telecommunications carriers for their apparent failure to pay their required contributions to the Universal Service Fund (USF), the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) fund, the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA), and regulatory fees.
The USF is a multibillion dollar fund created by federal statute to ensure that consumers in every region of the U.S. have access to affordable telecommunications services (The NALs were issued just six weeks after the FCC launched an inquiry into the management and oversight of the USF). The TRS fund enables those with hearing or speech disabilities to communicate by telephone with the help of a relay operator; and the NANPA ensures the fair distribution of telephone numbers.
The FCC said that, pursuant to the Communications Act and FCC regulations, all telecommunications carriers that offer interstate services must contribute to these programs "on an equitable basis."
Also, Commission rules require carriers to register with the FCC so the agency can effectively monitor developments in the telecommunications marketplace.
Failure to comply with the requirements set forth for each fund or contributition requirements for each fund is serious business substantial fines are attached for each violation.
Indeed, the three telecommunications carriers at issue, Carerra Communications, LP, InPhonic, Inc. and Teletronics, Inc., stand to forfeit over $2 million combined for their apparent violations.
"Today's NALs help level the playing field for all telecommunications carriers by demonstrating a no tolerance policy for any carrier that fails to pay its required USF, TRS, and other regulatory obligations," the statement said. "Apparent violations like these distort the marketplace by causing carriers in compliance with the requirements to carry a disproportionate share of the costs of funding these programs and frustrate the purposes for which Congress and the Commission established the programs."
According to Carerra's NAL, the FCC concluded that the Texas-based company is apparently liable for a total forfeiture of $606,500 for the following violations:
(1) $250,000 for failure to file five Telecommunications Reporting Worksheets;
(2) $325,000 for failure to make any monthly USF contributions;
(3) $13,500 for making its 2004 TRS Fund contribution over four months after it was due on July 26, 2004;
(4) $10,000 for failure to make its 2004 regulatory fee program payment; and
(5) $8,000 for failure to respond to Commission directives.
InPhonic, according to the NAL issued by the FCC, is apparently liable for a total forfeiture of $819,905 for the following violations:
(1) $100,000 for failure to register pursuant to section 64.1195 of the Commissions rules;
(2) $100,000 for failure to file two Telecommunications Reporting Worksheets;
(3) $598,626 for failure to make seven monthly USF contributions on a timely basis; and
(4) $21,279 for failure to timely make its 2004 TRS Fund contribution.
Finally, the FCC concluded in the NAL issued to Teletronics that the Ohio-based company is apparently liable for a total forfeiture of $692,000 for the following violations:
(1) $100,000 for failure to register with the FCC;
(2) $250,000 for failure to file five annual or quarterly Telecommunications Reporting Worksheets;
(3) $308,000 for failure to make any monthly USF contributions;
(4) $14,000 for failure to pay the 2004 TRS Fund contribution;
(5) $10,000 for failure to make its 2005 NANPA contribution; and
(6) $10,000 for failure to make its 2004 regulatory fee program payment.
The Commission was limited to to apparent violations that took place within the last year, the FCC noted in each of the companies' NALS that they had a history of noncompliance in previous years, which provided useful background and demonstrated the scope of their misconduct.
Each carrier has 30 days from the date the NALs were issued to either pay the fine or file a statement with the FCC seeking a reduction or cancellation of the forfeiture.
Furthermore, Carerra and Teletronics were ordered to submit a plan to the FCC within 30 days detailing plans on how the carriers will promptly come into compliance with relevant payment and reporting rules.
Ted Glanzer is assistant editor for TMCnet. For more articles by Ted Glanzer, please visit:
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