Unsafe at Any Rate

Posted by: Hank Hultquist on November 24, 2010 at 12:54 pm

In recent blogs I have explored: (a) the FCC’s absurd practice of regulating the structure of long distance pricing even as long distance is rapidly vanishing as a distinct consumer service; and (b) the foolishness of extending obsolete interconnection rules to IP networks.

Today, I will try to tie these seemingly distinct modes of transportation together and, in so doing, explain how the FCC can finally put this industry on the road to rationality.

It is axiomatic that interconnection on the telephone network (a.k.a., the PSTN) has become an upside-down world of inefficiencies and arbitrage. This entire system is built on a series of arbitrary rules and assumptions that have long been overtaken by reality.

We have a system that entitles service providers to file tariffs pursuant to which they can unilaterally extract payments from other service providers for “terminating” calls from those other service providers’ customers. To make matters worse, and despite the fact that the functions performed in “terminating” all calls are identical, the applicable rates can vary greatly depending on whether a call is “local,” “intrastate long distance,” or “interstate long distance,” or dialed from a mobile smartphone, skyped from a laptop or placed from the dusty home “landline.”   

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Can I Supersize My Minutes?

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on July 13, 2010 at 11:01 am

Authored by Kimberly Darrin, AT&T Director of Public Policy

I grew up in the ‘80s asking, “Where’s the beef?”.  It’s probably not much of a surprise then that fast food is top on my list when I stop to consider what other industries have been as creative in appealing to the needs and wants of the American consumer as the wireless industry.  Bringing consumers value for their dollar is the name of the game when companies are allowed to compete.

In evaluating whether effective competition exists in the wireless industry for its 14th Annual Report, the FCC looked in part to price rivalry.  Wireless carriers compete on many levels to attract and retain satisfied customers, but appealing to consumers’ pocketbooks is one of the more tangible and surefire ways to ensure success.  Case in point: the dollar menu.

Back in 1998, AT&T revolutionized wireless pricing plans by introducing the Digital One Rate (DOR), which offered consumers national calling plans with no roaming charges and no separate long distance fees.  When you come up with a good idea, your competitors follow.  Offer customers the option to “supersize” their meal and don’t be surprised when you see a competitor offer a “biggie” or better yet, a “great biggie.”

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