Click here for Microsoft Word Version
******************************************************** 
                      NOTICE
********************************************************

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).

*****************************************************************



                           Before the
                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         )
                                )
                                )
                                )


                         CONSENT DECREE

   
                        I.  INTRODUCTION

     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 
Commission's rules.1

                         II.  BACKGROUND

     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, 
D.C.

     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.

                        III.  DEFINITIONS

     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 
Enforcement Bureau;

     (b)  ``Bureau'' means the Enforcement Bureau of the Federal 
Communications                     Commission; 

            (c)     "USLD" or the "Company" means USLD 
Communications, Inc., its subsidiaries,                and its 
successors;

            (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 
Consent Decree;

            (g)     "Effective Date" means the date on which  the 
Enforcement Bureau releases the              Order.

                         IV.  AGREEMENT

     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 
Order.

     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.   
64.703(a)(3)(i). 

     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 
disclosure requirements.  

     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 
program.

     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 
order.

     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 
legal proceeding.

     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                    
COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
                                   

                              




                                                                                                   
                              David H. Solomon
                              Chief
                              Enforcement Bureau


                                                                                                   

                              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 
Services).

4 47 C.F.R.   64.703(a)(1), (a)(2),  (a)(3), (a)(4)  (Consumer 
Information).

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).