PAY PER CALL RULE REVIEW
FTC File No. R611016
These comments are filed pursuant to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published October 30, 1998 (F.Reg. Vol 63, No. 210, pp. 58524-58568) with regard to proposed amendments to 16 C.F.R. 308. This is an amended supplement to our previous filing(s).
308.2 (g) Definitions: Definitions should include the term "charge for transmission of the call" (47 U.S.C. 228(i)(1)(B)), and define the charge for transmission to be:
308.2 (g)(3)(ii): The trigger charge should not be an "average", but a set amount of $ 2.00 per call or $0.25 per minute. "Average" is not verifiable and does not constrain the upper range. A maximum of 20 times the actual "charge for transmission" could also be set as an umbrella maximum, thus building an incentive for providers to minimize transmission charges below $0.10/minute, reasonable for both domestic and international provisioning. Most voice calls average 2.5 minutes (non pay-per-call), and data 25 minutes (i.e. Internet Service Providers).
In addition, the information services restrictions should not be limited to "audio".
Presubscription agreements should be written, between the information service provider and the subscriber.
308.2(b)(9): Two or more calls to an information service provider should not raise a presumption of a presubscription agreement or membership. Membership and presubscription agreements should be in writing and mutually binding with benefits attached which go beyond the call(s) themselves (i.e. membership card, meetings, newsletter, etc.).
308.2(g)(3)(iii): The "tariff" exemption for directory services by a common carrier or it's affiliate should not allow a tariff to become a bar to enforcement by FCC or FTC. A tariff is not a permit or license or adjudicated matter (absent timely objection and an evidentiary proceeding), but only a "Notice" filing. The FTC or FCC should be able to proceed against a directory service of a common carrier of affiliate which deceives the public as to the charges to be made for each such call (including ever increasing "directory assistance with call completion" services, which charge for directory assistance and then connect one to an information service, vendor, or called party).
The FTC should not prejudice directory services which are not common carriers or affiliates (i.e. 5% equity held by carrier), because directories of Bell operating companies (ILECs) are now unbundled to private companies which are not carriers or their affiliates (per FCC Order) but are information services providers. The FTC has the discretion to extend the Part 308 exemption beyond the Statutory mandate to include information service providers providing directory services which are not carriers or affiliates. Directory services have not been a subject of any significant charge-backs or consumer complaints and thus all directory services can be exempt without public risk. These services are almost all short calls costing less that $0.75 per call.
308.2(g)(2): The FTC should examine, and we propose, extending an exemption to non-audio-text/entertainment "collect calls" made pursuant to a generally available collect call services which are not affiliates of the information service provider and hold out their non-audio-text/entertainment collect call services to the public generally for all phone calls. The proposed inclusion of collect calls to pay-per-call without distinguishing the involvement of the information service provider or its carrier, would be unduly burdensome to entities which provide non-audio-text/entertainment collect call services, including "1-800-COLLECT" of MCI-WorldCom, and our proposed service.
March 8, 1999
Richard C. Bartel