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Landline Access ReformPosted Wednesday, March 10, 2010, at 4:57 PM
The Show-Me State is in need of fair telephone access reform and Missouri legislators are showing initiative to rectify that.
HB 1750, sponsored by Tim Jones (R) from Eureka, recently passed the house by a bi-partisan vote of 111-40. All of the legislators present for the vote from Southeast Missouri voted in favor of the bill.
HB 1750 requires certain incumbent local exchange telecommunications companies to reduce both their composite originating and terminating intrastate switched exchange access rates over the next several years. This piece of legislation recognizes that telephone access reform will benefit everyone in Missouri by bringing more transparency to rates for telecommunications services by reducing hidden subsidies within the intrastate switched exchange access compensation system through the reduction of switched exchange access rates paid from one company to another to originate and terminate telephone calls. Missourian's will also benefit from greater competition, lower consumer pricing and continued funding for new innovation. Small local exchange telecommunications companies serving fewer than 25,000 access lines, such as BPS, will not be affected by HB 1750.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has established interstate rates for landline telephone calls at one-half cent per minute, meaning that AT&T is required to pay one-half cent per minute to the network receiving the call any AT&T customer in Missouri places outside of the state.
The FCC does not control the intrastate tariff. Rates are created by individual companies. Missouri, along with North Dakota and South Dakota, currently have the highest intrastate access rates in the nation, ranging upward of 15 cents in some cases.
The time has come for Missouri telecommunications businesses to play on a level field. HB 1750 is a step in the right direction.
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