JSI and its HCLS Clients respectfully request the Wireline Competition Bureau (“WCB”) or the Federal Communications Commission (“Commission”) declare the local urban rate survey to be incomplete and suspend indefinitely any increases to local rates that are tied to receiving HCLS.
The Commission needs time to revisit its policies due to the fact that its prior policies were based on faulty presumptions. The Commission anticipated that the urban rate floor would be set at a figure close to the sum of $15.62 plus state regulated fees. Based on this presumption, the Commission adopted the urban average to be the rate floor instead of a statistically valid range of confidence below the urban average. In light of the WCB survey results, this policy needs to be revisited to ensure there is a range of reasonableness around the urban average.
The WCB needs to revisit its survey methodology to ensure that it captures comparable services in urban areas with a statistically valid sample. Its evaluation of comparable services must reflect the value customers place on local services, including the value of local calling scopes in rural areas relative to urban areas. Additionally, the comparison of VoIP local service to circuit switched local service is inapposite because VoIP local service generally is fully featured whereas including these same features for circuit switched service requires additional charges. The survey also needs to verify that it is meeting the purpose of the Commission—to compare what customers pay for local service and not simply what providers offer in the urban marketplace.
In releasing its survey, the WCB failed to assess the impact of its survey results on rural customers. New evidence from the Commission reveals that it is sensitive to the fact that rural areas have been home to a disproportionate number of low-income Americans. At minimum, the WCB should assess the impact of a 40 plus percent rate increase directed at these Americans.
These considerations support the indefinite suspension of an increase of the local urban rate floor and a reexamination of the urban rate floor policy instead of a postponement of the urban rate floor as proposed by the Petitioners.
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