Proceed Cautiously If You’ve Received Urgent Agreement Signature Requests
Many JSI rate of return (RLEC) and CLEC clients reportedly have received requests from large carriers to sign interconnection agreement amendments or bill and keep traffic exchange agreements. Some of the notices claim that the RLEC is not in compliance and demand that the agreement be signed in 10 days. Other notices say that dispute resolution proceedings have begun.
These notices address two separate issues – 1) Bill and Keep Reciprocal Compensation and 2) Forbearance Amendments.
Bill and Keep Reciprocal Compensation
If your RLEC company received one of these notices, you should not sign it until you make sure that the terms of the agreement are not detrimental to you. RLECs have until July 1, 2020, to reduce their reciprocal compensation to bill and keep. Claims that an RLEC agreement is not in compliance with the FCC rules because reciprocal compensation is not at bill and keep are not accurate. In addition, signing such an agreement would require the RLEC to have several different trunk groups to deliver the same traffic they currently deliver over a single trunk group.
We also caution RLEC clients against signing if the agreement would obligate them to comply with requesting carrier’s procedures that reach far beyond Section 251 interconnection requirements, provisions that we have seen in some of the proposed agreements.
The FCC granted Price Cap carriers forbearance from offering analog UNEs, interoffice UNE transport, and resale at a discount. The FCC order allows the Price Cap carriers to grandfather existing services and then provide a transition interval to completely discontinue the services or to move to commercial agreements. We understand that Price Cap carriers are sending requests to CLECs to update their interconnection agreements to implement this forbearance order. CLECs should review the amendments to ensure they are not adversely impacted by the changes. JSI has seen one amendment that has gone beyond the forbearance changes.
JSI can help clients determine if signing these agreements are in their best interest, modify the agreements, or take another path to address the issue. Clients that have received one or both of these notices should contact Valerie Wimer or Terri Parrilla at 301-459-7590 or Lans Chase at 770-569-2105.