In the Matter of
Pay-Per-Call Rule Review 16 C.F.R. Part 308
MCI WorldCom, Inc. ("MCIW"), by the undersigned, hereby submits the following comments in response to the Federal Trade Commission's (the "Commission" or "FTC") Notice of Proposed Rule Making, released October 30, 1998 ("NPRM"). In its NPRM, the Commission has requested comments on its proposed broadening of the definition of "pay-per-call services," for the purpose of expanding the reach of its current pay-per-call rules beyond 900-number calls. MCIW submits these comments for the limited purpose of requesting that the FTC clarify that its proposed re-definition of "pay-per-call services" does not encompass long distance services that are not subject to presubscription agreements.
The Telephone Disclosure and Dispute Resolution Act of 1992 ("TDDRA") granted the FTC jurisdiction over common carriers solely for the purpose of enforcing its 900-number rules (the "Rule"). The Telecommunications Act of 1996 authorized the FTC to expand the definition of "pay-per-call services," to prevent providers of 900 services from circumventing the Rule by filing tariffs for other types of services such as 1-500 and 1-700 services, and then charging customers high prices for those services. See House Conference Report No. 204-458, U.S. Code Cong. and Adm. News, 104th Congress, 1996, at 216. Congress never intended to expand the FTC's jurisdiction any further. See 15 U.S.C. § 45 (a)(2).
The FTC's proposed re-definition of "pay-per-call services" encompasses 900-number calls that include "audio entertainment, including simultaneous voice conversation services" and that cost more than $0.05 per minute or $0.50 per call, and that do not fall into any of the Rules' exemptions, such as the one for presubscription services. Certain long distance services that are not sold on a presubscription basis can cost more than $0.05 per minute or $0.50 per call, and they are "simultaneous voice conversations" that some might incorrectly argue are "audio entertainment." However, those services are not even analogous to the subject 900-number services and should be expressly exempted from the FTC's new definition of "pay-per-call services."
For the foregoing reasons, MCIW respectfully requests that the Commission make the aforementioned clarification in connection with the amendment of its Pay-Per-Call Rules.
MCI WorldCom, Inc.
March 10, 1999