The economic downturn of the past five years and the Telecommunications Act of 1996 created a perfect storm for businesses today trying to control their telecom expenses.
As background information, the Telecommunications Act was designed to open up competition in the local wireline service arena, giving consumers and businesses a choice when acquiring local services. Almost overnight, Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLEC) started popping up to take advantage of the new law, which required the Incumbent LECs (ILECs) to sell business lines at wholesale to CLECs so they in turn can resell the services to end users. Under the authority of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Number Portability Administration Center (NPAC) was established to manage the Porting process of telephone numbers between ILECS and CLECs.
Fast forward to 2011―cash strapped States began reducing or eliminating their Public Utilities Commissions’ Telecom oversight since its role becomes less relevant in a competitive market. Unfortunately, many telecom billing systems are fraught with errors, and as a result, multiple companies end up billing for the same lines of service. This becomes a bigger problem for multisite businesses that ported their numbers to different providers over the past 15+ years. Additionally, securing refunds for complex billing errors may get even harder in the future for businesses as a result of an August 16, 2012 NY PUC ruling on Case 11-C-0048, which requires business customers to provide support claims for overbilling on disconnected lines.
Fortunately, businesses small and large can minimize the impact of this changing regulatory environment by:
- Keeping copies of all service orders along with any confirmations in writing and in a shared folder to prevent loss if someone leaves the company.
- Tracking the end of billing for any disconnects to ensure billing for the original service stops on the end of bill date and keeping a copy of the final bill in the event billing starts up again at some future date.
- Completing an audit every six months at a minimum to ensure you are not being billed for the same Working Telephone Numbers on multiple accounts or through multiple vendors.
- Having the porting provider provide written documentation that they are the provider of record according to NPAC.
- Documenting all billing disputed in writing.
Learn how Ecova can help you navigate the ever-changing telecom environment.