Click here for Microsoft Word Version
This document was converted from
WordPerfect or Word to ASCII Text format.
Content from the original version of the document such as
headers, footers, footnotes, endnotes, graphics, and page numbers
will not show up in this text version.
All text attributes such as bold, italic, underlining, etc. from the
original document will not show up in this text version.
Features of the original document layout such as
columns, tables, line and letter spacing, pagination, and margins
will not be preserved in the text version.
If you need the complete document, download the
Word or WordPerfect version or Adobe Acrobat version (above).
Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of )
USLD Communications, Inc. )
) File No. EB-TC-00-045
Operator Service Consumer ) NAL/Acct. No. 200132170014
Information Requirements )
1. This Consent Decree is entered into by the Enforcement
Bureau (``Bureau'') of the Federal Communications Commission (the
"FCC" or the "Commission") and USLD Communications, Inc.
(``USLD'' or the "Company"), by their counsel and authorized
representatives. This Consent Decree resolves an investigation
(the "Investigation") conducted by the Bureau regarding
compliance with the operator service requirements contained in
Section 226(b)(1)(C) of the Communications Act of 1934, as
amended (the ``Act''), and Section 64.703(a)(3) of the
2. On December 1, 1999, the Enforcement Bureau began an
investigation concerning compliance with the operator service
requirements contained in the Act and the Commission's rules.2
Specifically, the Bureau's field staff investigated, inter alia,
compliance with Section 226(b)(1) of the Act,3 and portions of
section 64.703 of the Commission's rules.4 Over the next three
months, the Bureau's field staff checked compliance at over 1,700
telephones throughout the United States. This information was
compiled and further evaluated by Commission staff in Washington,
3. USLD is a provider of operator services for aggregator
telephones throughout the United States.5 Under Section 226 of
the Act and the Commission's implementing rules, operator service
providers (``OSPs'') must, inter alia, audibly identify
themselves at the beginning of each operator-assisted call and
must also disclose immediately to the consumer, upon request and
at no charge: (1) a quotation of its rates or charges for the
call; (2) the methods by which such rates or charges will be
collected; and (3) the methods by which complaints concerning
such rates, charges, or collection practices will be resolved.6
4. Based on its nationwide investigation, the Bureau
identified possible violations of the Act and of the Commission's
rules regarding operator services. The Bureau contacted USLD
regarding potential problems with its disclosure of rate and
complaint information to consumers upon request. Throughout the
Investigation, USLD has cooperated fully with the Bureau.
5. For the Purposes of this Consent Decree, the following
definitions shall apply:
(a) The "FCC" or the "Commission" means all Bureaus
and Offices of the Commission, including the
(b) ``Bureau'' means the Enforcement Bureau of the Federal
(c) "USLD" or the "Company" means USLD
Communications, Inc., its subsidiaries, and its
(d) "Parties" means USLD and the Bureau;
(e) ``OSPs'' means providers of operator services, as
defined by the Act and the Commission's rules;7
(f) " Order" means the Order of the Bureau
adopting the terms and conditions of this
(g) "Effective Date" means the date on which the
Enforcement Bureau releases the Order.
6. USLD agrees that the Bureau has jurisdiction over the
matters contained in this Consent Decree and the authority to
enter into and adopt this Consent Decree.
7. The Parties agree that the provisions of this voluntary
Consent Decree shall be subject to final approval by the Bureau
by incorporation of such provisions by reference in the Order of
the Bureau adopting this Consent Decree.
8. The Parties agree that this Consent Decree shall become
effective on the date on which the Bureau releases the Order
adopting this Consent Decree. Upon release, the Order adopting
this Consent Decree and this Consent Decree shall have the same
force and effect as any other Order of the Commission, and any
violation of the terms and conditions of this Consent Decree
shall constitute a violation of a Commission Order entitling the
Commission to exercise any and all rights and to seek any and all
remedies authorized by law for the enforcement of a Commission
9. The Parties agree that this Consent Decree does not
constitute an adjudication on the merits or any finding on the
facts or law regarding any violations of the Act or of the
Commission's rules committed by USLD. The Parties agree that by
entering into this Consent Decree, the Company does not admit any
legal or equitable liability or any wrongdoing.
10. In express reliance upon the representations contained
herein, the Bureau agrees to terminate its investigation into the
matters regarding USLD discussed in paragraphs 2 - 4, supra.
11. USLD agrees to waive any and all rights it may have to
seek administrative or judicial reconsideration, review, appeal
or stay, or to otherwise challenge or contest the validity of
this Consent Decree and the Order adopting this Consent Decree,
provided the Order adopts this Consent Decree without change,
addition, or modification.
12. USLD waives any rights it may have under any provision
of the Equal Access to Justice Act, 5 U.S.C. § 504, and 47 C.F.R.
§ 1.1501 et seq.
13. USLD shall make a voluntary contribution to the United
States Treasury in the amount of one hundred fifty thousand
dollars ($150,000) within 30 days of the Effective Date of this
Consent Decree. Such contribution shall be made, without further
protest or recourse, by certified check, cashier's check, or
money order drawn to the order of the Federal Communications
Commission, and shall be mailed to the Federal Communications
Commission, P.O. Box 73482, Chicago, Illinois 60673-7482,
reflecting account number 200132170014.
14. USLD affirms that it had previously, in December 1999,
established a gateway to its rate server to allow both its
operators and automated system to provide real-time rate
information to consumers directly from the server containing the
database with USLD's actual rates. Over the next several months,
this gateway experienced technical problems, which occasionally
required taking the system down to allow for testing and further
installation, and which affected the provision of rate quote
information. USLD further affirms that these technical problems
have been resolved to the best of its knowledge and belief.
15. USLD further affirms that with this gateway in place,
consumers that desire an automated rate quote can obtain such
information by dialing two digits, consistent with 47 C.F.R. §
16. USLD further affirms that from approximately mid-March
to May of 2000, USLD conducted extensive training of its
operators to ensure that USLD complies with the rate disclosure
requirements of 47 C.F.R. § 64.703(a)(3). Specifically, all of
USLD's operators completed a training session concerning the rate
disclosure requirements. Subsequently, each operator met
individually with his or her supervisor, and was further tested
and required to demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of the rate
17. USLD further affirms that USLD conducted extensive
monitoring of USLD's operators by conducting random (and
unannounced) test calls to determine if the operators understood,
and were complying with, the rate disclosure requirements.
USLD's Quality Assurance team placed well over 2,000 test calls
to determine compliance with the rate quote disclosure
requirements. The supervisors of the operators also conducted
random test calls, as well as side-by-side monitoring to ensure
compliance with requirements. In cases where a particular
operator had failed to fully comply with the requirements, the
operator's supervisor met with the operator and attempted to
identify the root cause of the failure, so that the situation
could be remedied. Where a given operator's performance
demonstrated a trend of non-compliance, that operator was placed
on a performance plan, which could lead to termination.
18. USLD further affirms that newly-hired operators receive
four and one-half days of training, which includes classroom
training, role playing, and on-line training under the watch of a
``coach.'' Newly-hired operators then receive one week of on-
the-job-training with a ``coach.'' USLD affirms that it will
maintain this practice.
19. USLD further affirms that its Quality Assurance team
randomly monitors sixteen different billable calls per month for
each of its operators to ensure quality assurance and compliance
with legal requirements (including the Commission's rules).
While the operators are aware of this Quality Assurance
monitoring program (and specifically consent to it as part of
their employment), an operator does not know whether any
particular call is being monitored. The operator's supervisor is
provided the feedback on this monitoring, and works with the
operator on any performance issues.
20. USLD further affirms that with respect to information
concerning the methods by which complaints will be resolved, or
information concerning the methods by which charges will be
collected, a consumer can seek such information from an operator,
who will direct the consumer to a toll-free number where such
information may be obtained, as required by 47 C.F.R. §
64.703(a)(3)(ii)-(iii). USLD also affirms that consumers who
desire such information after entering the automated rate quote
system, can dial ``0'' for additional information, and thereby be
transferred to an operator who will provide the consumer with
that toll-free number.
21. USLD further affirms that it is in the process of
providing additional training concerning the operator service
requirements. Specifically, USLD will conduct a training session
specific to this requirement with all operators, and its
supervisors will individually pursue this requirement with each
operator. USLD affirms that this additional training will be
reviewed with all operators on a quarterly basis for the term of
this Consent Decree. Finally, USLD will include the requirement
to provide such information as part of its Quality Assurance
22. The Parties agree that this Consent Decree shall become
effective on the date on which the Order adopting this Consent
Decree is released, and shall remain in effect for two (2) years
after its effective date.
23. The Parties agree and acknowledge that this Consent
Decree shall constitute a final settlement of the Investigation.
The FCC will not initiate on its own motion any other enforcement
action against USLD, or seek on its own motion any administrative
or other penalties from the Company, based on any evidence
gathered as part of this Investigation.
24. The Parties agree that if any provision of the Consent
Decree conflicts with any subsequent rule or order adopted by the
Commission, it will be superseded by such Commission rule or
25. If this Consent Decree is not signed by both parties,
is not adopted by the Bureau, or is otherwise rendered invalid by
any court of competent jurisdiction, it shall become null and
void and shall not become part of the record in this enforcement
proceeding, nor may it be used in any fashion by any party in a
26. USLD and the Bureau agree to be bound by the terms and
conditions stated herein.
27. The Parties agree that this Consent Decree may be
signed in counterparts.
FOR THE FEDERAL
David H. Solomon
USLD Communications, Inc.
1 47 U.S.C. § 226(b)(1)(C); 47 C.F.R. §§ 64.703(a)(3), (a)(4).
2 47 U.S.C. § 226 (b)(1)(C); 47 C.F.R. 64.703(a)(3).
3 47 U.S.C. § 226(b)(1) (Requirements for Providers of Operator
4 47 C.F.R. §§ 64.703(a)(1), (a)(2), (a)(3), (a)(4) (Consumer
5 ``Operator services'' is defined by the Act and Commission
rules as ``any interstate telecommunications service from an
aggregator location that includes, as a component, any automatic
or live assistance to a consumer to arrange for billing or
completion, or both, of an interstate telephone call through a
method other than: (1) automatic completion with billing to the
telephone from which the call originated; or (2) completion
through an access code used by the consumer, with billing to an
account previously established with the carrier by the consumer.
'' 47 U.S.C. § 226(a)(7); 47 C.F.R. § 64.708(i). A ``provider
of operator services'' means ``any common carrier that provides
operator services or any other person determined by the
Commission to be a provider of operator services.'' 47 U.S.C. §
226(a)(9); 47 C.F.R. § 64.708(l). An ``aggregator'' is defined
by the Act and the Commission's rules as ``any person that, in
the ordinary course of its operations, makes telephones
available to the public or to transient users of its premises,
for interstate telephone calls using a provider of operator
services.'' 47 U.S.C. § 226(a)(2); 47 C.F.R. § 64.708(b).
6 47 U.S.C. § 226(b)(1); 47 C.F.R. § 64.703(a)(3).
7 47 U.S.C. § 226(a)(9); 47 C.F.R. § 64.708(l).