TUCoPS :: Cyber Law :: 800block.txt

The US Bill that prohibits blocking free 800 and 950 calls

From cmoore@brl.mil Mon Nov 18 11:42:26 1991
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Date:     Mon, 18 Nov 91 11:37:50 EST
From: Carl Moore (VLD/VMB) <cmoore@brl.mil>
To: riddle@hoss.unl.edu, telecom-request@eecs.nwu.edu,
Subject:  breaux.bill.call.blocking
Message-Id:  <9111181137.aa28025@WUMPUS.BRL.MIL>
Status: R

From: riddle@hoss.unl.edu
Subject: Re: The Breaux Bill (S. 1660)
Sender: news@hoss.unl.edu (Network News Administer)
Organization: University of Nebraska, Computing Resource Center
References: <14466@accuvax.nwu.edu>
Date: Sat, 10 Nov 90 02:01:49 GMT

In <14466@accuvax.nwu.edu> FLINTON@eagle.wesleyan.edu (Fred E.J. Linton) writes:

[ some preliminary information deleted ]

>	 It turns out, though neither my local operating company (SNET)
>nor the business editor at the {Register} were the ones to know, that a
>bill passed the Senate October 3, was signed into law October 17, and
>therefore takes effect November 17, having essentially the effects
>described.  This I learned from a nameless but helpful AT&T rep at one
>of AT&T's many corporate 800 numbers, which I had called originally on
>quite a different matter (10XXX and 950 assistance and information).

>	 The bill is S. 1660, sponsored by Sen. Breaux of Louisiana,
>hence known to the AT&T rep who described it to me as the Breaux bill;
>it apparently prohibits blocking of 800 and 950 calls at phones in
>hotels, motels, and universities (and maybe more).  Said rep went on
>to explain that, while the bill "goes into effect" November 17, it
>begins *really* only after a 210-day period the FCC has thereafter in
>which to implement a compliance schedule.

>	 So in fact there's an FCC docket # relevant here -- # 90313,
>if that rep and my typing are not mistaken -- which is still open for
>comments on the part of the interested public.

>	 If someone with easy access to the Congressional Record could
>share with TELECOM Digest the salient features of S.1660, we might
>know a little better just what comments, if any, might still need to
>get offered :-) .  Such comments, in any event, should be sent to:
>Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, Washington
>DC 20554.

The bill referenced, S. 1660, was also known as H.R. 971 and is attached
below.  I would imagine that if comments are submitted soon, the FCC would
consider them.

                               Public Law 101-435

                                 101st Congress

                                   [H.R. 971]

                          101 P.L. 435; 1990 H.R. 971

                                 An Act

   To require the Federal Communications Commission to prescribe
rules to protect consumers from unfair practices in the provision
of operator services, and for other purposes.

OCT. 17, 1990 -- PUBLIC LAW 101-435

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of the Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the " Telephone   Operator   Consumer
Services  Improvement Act of 1990".


The Congress finds that --
   (1) the divestiture of AT&T and decisions allowing open entry
for competitors in the telephone marketplace produced a variety of
new services and many new providers of existing telephone services;
   (2) the growth of competition in the telecommunications market
makes it essential to ensure that safeguards are in place to assure
fairness for consumers and service providers alike;
   (3) a variety of providers of operator services now compete to
win contracts to provide operator services to hotels, hospitals,
airports, and other aggregators of telephone business from
   (4) the mere existence of a variety of service providers in the
operator services marketplace is significant in making that market
competitive only when consumers are able to make informed choices
from among those service providers;
   (5) however, often consumers have no choices in selecting a
provider of operator services, and often attempts by consumers to
reach their preferred long distance carrier by using a telephone
billing card, credit card, or prearranged access code number are
   (6) a number of State regulatory authorities have taken action
to protect consumers using intrastate operator services;
   (7) from January 1988 through February 1990, the Federal
Communications Commission received over 4,000 complaints from
consumers about operator services;
   (8) those consumers have complained that they are denied access
to the interexchange carrier of their choice, that they are
deceived about the identity of the company providing operator
services for their calls and the rates being charged, that they
lack information on what they can do to complain about unfair
treatment by an operator service provider, and that they are,
accordingly, being deprived of the free choice essential to the
operation of a competitive market;
   (9) the Commission has testified that its actions have been
insufficient to correct the problems in the operator services
industry to date; and
   (10) a combination of industry self-regulation and government
regulation is required to ensure that competitive operator services
are provided in a fair and reasonable manner.


Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 is amended by inserting
immediately after section 225 (47 U.S.C. 225) the following new


"(a) DEFINITIONS.  -- As used in this section --
   "(1) The term 'access code' means a sequence of numbers that,
when dialed, connect the caller to the provider of operator
services associated with that sequence.
   "(2) The term 'aggregator' means any person that, in the
ordinary course of its operations, makes telephones available to
the public or to transient users of its premises, for interstate
telephone calls using a provider of operator services.
   "(3) The term 'call splashing' means the transfer of a telephone
call from one provider of operator services to another such
provider in such a manner that the subsequent provider is unable
or unwilling to determine the location of the origination of the
call and, because of such inability or unwillingness, is prevented
from billing the call on the basis of such location.
   "(4) The term 'consumer' means a person initiating any inter-
state telephone call using operator services.
   "(5) The term 'equal access' has the meaning given that term in
Appendix B of the Modification of Final Judgment entered August 24,
1982, in United States v. Western Electric, Civil Action No.
82-0192 (United States District Court, District of Columbia), as
amended by the Court in its orders issued prior to the enactment
of this section.
   "(6) The term 'equal access code' means an access code that
allows the public to obtain an equal access connection to the
carrier associated with that code.
   "(7) The term 'operator services' means any interstate telecom-
munications service initiated from an aggregator location that
includes, as a component, any automatic or live assistance to a
consumer to arrange for billing or completion, or both, of an
interstate telephone call through a method other than --
   "(A) automatic completion with billing to the telephone from
which the call originated; or
   "(B) completion through an access code used by the consumer,
with billing to an account previously established with the carrier
by the consumer.
   "(8) The term 'presubscribed provider of operator services'
means the interstate provider of operator services to which the
consumer is connected when the consumer places a call using a
provider of operator services without dialing an access code.
   "(9) The term 'provider of operator services' means any common
carrier that provides operator services or any other person
determined by the Commission to be providing operator services.

   "(1) IN GENERAL.  -- Beginning not later than 30 days after the
date of enactment of this section, each provider of operator
services shall, at a minimum --
   "(A) identify itself, audibly and distinctly, to the consumer
at the beginning of each telephone call and before the consumer
incurs any charge for the call;
   "(B) permit the consumer to terminate the telephone call at no
charge before the call is connected;
   "(C) disclose immediately to the consumer, upon request and at
no charge to the consumer --
   "(i) a quote of its rates or charges for the call;
   "(ii) the methods by which such rates or charges will be
collected; and
   "(iii) the methods by which complaints concerning such rates,
charges, or collection practices will be resolved;
   "(D) ensure, by contract or tariff, that each aggregator for
which such provider is the presubscribed provider of operator
services is in compliance with the requirements of subsection (c)
and, if applicable, subsection (e)(1);
   "(E) withhold payment (on a location-by-location basis) of any
compensation, including commissions, to aggregators if such
provider reasonably believes that the (i) is blocking access by
means of "950" or "800" numbers to interstate common carriers in
violation of subsection (c)(1)(B) or (ii) is blocking access to
equal access codes in violation of rules the Commission may
prescribe under subsection (e)(1);
   "(F) not bill for unanswered telephone calls in areas where
equal access is available;
   "(G) not knowingly bill for unanswered telephone calls where
equal access is not available;
   "(H) not engage in call splashing, unless the consumer requests
to be transferred to another provider of operator services, the
consumer is informed prior to incurring any charges that the rates
for the call may not reflect the rates from the actual originating
location of the call, and the consumer then consents to be
   "(I) except as provided in subparagraph (H), not bill for a call
that does not reflect the location of the origination of the call;
   "(J) not bill an interexchange telephone call to a billing card
number which --
   "(i) is issued by another provider of operator services, and
   "(ii) permits the identification of the other provider, unless
the call is billed at a rate not greater than the other provider's
rate for the call, the consumer requests a special service that is
not available under tariff from the other provider, or the consumer
expressly consents to a rate greater than the other provider's
to meeting the requirements of paragraph (1), during the 3-year
period beginning on the date that is 30 days after the date of
enactment of this section, each presubscribed provider of operator
services shall identify itself audibly and distinctly to the
consumer, not only as required in paragraph (1)(A), but also for
a second time before connecting the call and before the consumer
incurs any charge.

   "(1) IN GENERAL.  -- Each aggregator, beginning not later than
30 days after the date of enactment of this section, shall --
   "(A) post on or near the telephone instrument, in plain view of
consumers --
   "(i) the name, address, and toll-free telephone number of the
provider of operator services;
   "(ii) a written disclosure that the rates for all operator-
assisted calls are available on request, and that consumers have
a right to obtain access to the interstate common carrier of their
choice and may contact their preferred interstate common carriers
for information on accessing that carrier's service using that
telephone; and
   "(iii) the name and address of the enforcement division of the
Common Carrier Bureau of the Commission, to which the consumer may
direct complaints regarding operator services;
   "(B) ensure that each of its telephones presubscribed to a
provider of operator services allows the consumer to use "800" and
"950" access code numbers to obtain access to the provider of
operator services desired by the consumer; and
   "(C) ensure that no charge by the aggregator to the consumer for
using an "800" or "950" access code number, or any other access
code number, is greater than the amount the aggregator charges for
calls placed using the presubscribed provider of operator services.
   "(2) EFFECT OF STATE LAW OR REGULATION.  -- The requirements of
paragraph (1)(A) shall not apply to an aggregator in any case in
which State law or State regulation requires the aggregator to take
actions that are substantially the same as those required in
paragraph (1)(A).

   "(1) RULEMAKING PROCEEDING.  -- The Commission shall conduct a
rulemaking proceeding pursuant to this title to prescribe regula-
tions to --
  "(A) protect consumers from unfair and deceptive practices
relating to their use of operator services to place interstate
telephone calls; and
   "(B) ensure that consumers have the opportunity to make informed
choices in making such calls.
   "(2) DEADLINES.  -- The Commission shall initiate the proceeding
required under paragraph (1) within 60 days after the date of
enactment of this section and shall prescribe regulations pursuant
to the proceeding not later than 210 days after such date of
enactment. Such regulations shall take effect not later than 45
days after the date the regulations are prescribed.
   "(3) CONTENTS OF REGULATIONS.  -- The regulations prescribed
under this section shall --
   "(A) contain provisions to implement each of the requirements
of this section, other than the requirements established by the
rulemaking under subsection (e) on access and compensation; and
   "(B) contain such other provisions as the Commission determines
necessary to carry out this section and the purposes and policies
of this section.
--  The regulations prescribed under this section shall, at a
minimum --
   "(A) establish minimum standards for providers of operator
services to use in the routing and handling of emergency telephone
calls; and
   "(B) establish a policy for requiring providers of operator
services to make public information about recent changes in
operator services and choices available to consumers in that

   "(1) ACCESS.  -- The Commission, within 9 months after the date
of enactment of this section, shall require --
   "(A) that each aggregator ensure within a reasonable time that
each of its telephones presubscribed to a provider of operator
services allows the consumer to obtain access to the provider of
operator services desired by the consumer through the use of an
equal access code; or
   "(B) that all providers of operator services, within a reason-
able time, make available to their customers a "950" or "800"
access code number for use in making operator services calls from
anywhere in the United States; or
   "(C) that the requirements described under both subparagraphs
(A) and (B) apply.
   "(2) COMPENSATION.  -- The Commission shall consider the need
to prescribe compensation (other than advance payment by consumers)
for owners of competitive public pay telephones for calls routed
to providers of operator services that are other than the pre-
subscribed provider of operator services for such telephones.
Within 9 months after the date of enactment of this section, the
Commission shall reach a final decision on whether to prescribe
such compensation.

software manufactured or imported more than 18 months after the
date of enactment of this section and installed by any aggregator
shall be technologically capable of providing consumers with access
to interstate providers of operator services through the use of
equal access codes.

"(g) FRAUD.  -- In any proceeding to carry out the provisions of
this section, the Commission shall require such actions or measures
as are necessary to ensure that aggregators are not exposed to
undue risk of fraud.

   "(A) IN GENERAL.  -- Each provider of operator services shall
file, within 30 days after the date of enactment of this section,
and shall maintain, update regularly, and keep open for public
inspection, an informational tariff specifying rates, terms, and
conditions, and including commissions, surcharges, any fees which
are collected from consumers, and reasonable estimates of the
amount of traffic priced at each rate, with respect to calls for
which operator services are provided. Any changes in such rates,
terms, or conditions shall be filed no later than the first day on
which the changed rates, terms, or conditions are in effect.
   "(B) WAIVER AUTHORITY.  -- The Commission may, after 4 years
following the date of enactment of this section, waive the
requirements of this paragraph only if --
   "(i) the findings and conclusions of the Commission in the final
report issued under paragraph (3)(B)(iii) state that the regulatory
objectives specified in subsection (d)(1)(A) and (B) have been
achieved; and
   "(ii) the Commission determines that such waiver will not
adversely affect the continued achievement of such regulatory
   "(2) REVIEW OF INFORMATIONAL TARIFFS.  -- If the rates and
charges filed by any provider of operator services under paragraph
(1) appear upon review by the Commission to be unjust or unreason-
able, the Commission may require such provider of operator services
to do either or both of the following:
   "(A) demonstrate that its rates and charges are just and
reasonable, and
   "(B) announce that its rates are available on request at the
beginning of each call.
   "(A) IN GENERAL.  -- Within 60 days after the date of enactment
of this section, the Commission shall initiate a proceeding to
determine whether the regulatory objectives specified in subsection
(d)(1)(A) and (B) are being achieved. The proceeding shall --
   "(i) monitor operator service rates;
   "(ii) determine the extent to which offerings made by providers
of operator services are improvements, in terms of service quality,
price, innovation, and other factors, over those available before
the entry of new providers of operator services into the market;
   "(iii) report on (in the aggregate and by individual provider)
operator service rates, incidence of service complaints, and
service offerings;
   "(iv) consider the effect that commissions and surcharges,
billing and validation costs, and other costs of doing business
have on the overall rates charged to consumers; and
   "(v) monitor compliance with the provisions of this section,
including the periodic placement of telephone calls from aggregator
   "(B) REPORTS.  --
   "(i) The Commission shall, during the pendency of such proceed-
ing and not later than 5 months after its commencement, provide the
Congress with an interim report on the Commission's activities and
progress to date.
   "(ii) Not later than 11 months after the commencement of such
proceeding, the Commission shall report to the Congress on its
interim findings as a result of the proceeding.
   "(iii) Not later than 23 months after the commencement of such
proceeding, the Commission shall submit a final report to the
Congress on its findings and conclusions.
   "(A) IN GENERAL.  -- Unless the Commission makes the determina-
tion described in subparagraph (B), the Commission shall, within
180 days after submission of the report required under paragraph
(3)(B)(iii), complete a rulemaking proceeding pursuant to this
title to establish regulations for implementing the requirements
of this title (and paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection) that
rates and charges for operator services be just and reasonable.
Such regulations shall include limitations on the amount of
commissions or any other compensation given to aggregators by
providers of operator service.
   "(B) LIMITATION.  -- The requirement of subparagraph (A) shall
not apply if, on the basis of the proceeding under paragraph
(3)(A), the Commission makes (and includes in the report required
by paragraph (3)(B)(iii)) a factual determination that market
forces are securing rates and charges that are just and reasonable,
as evidenced by rate levels, costs, complaints, service quality,
and other relevant factors.
   "(i) STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION.  -- Nothing in this section shall
be construed to alter the obligations, powers, or duties of common
carriers or the Commission under the other sections of this Act.".
    Speaker of the House of Representatives.
    Vice President of the United States and President of the
riddle@hoss.unl.edu                  |   University of Nebraska
riddle@crchpux.unl.edu               |   College of Law
mike.riddle@f27.n285.z1.fidonet.org  |   Lincoln, Nebraska, USA

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