New N.Y. Law Targets Hidden Net LD Tolls

From Fri Aug 19 14:37:28 2005
From: Barry Shein <>
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 2005 15:31:42 -0400
Subject: Re: New N.Y. Law Targets Hidden Net LD Tolls

Can't one still get minimal phone service which charges a toll on
every phone call? I know this used to cost like $5/mo but I think they
eliminated it in MA a few years ago, or made it hardship-only.

Authoritative answer: "Maybe."

Depends on the locale, the state regulators, and the phone company.

Frequently called "Lifeline" service, when marketed for the elderly,
disabled, etc.

Also called "measured zero" -- when offered to the general public (for
the 'cheap SOB' customer)

Simple business lines here normally charge for every phone call, 1MB
as they're called, MB = Measured Business tho I guess that's not what
Spitzer was concerned with.

But that's a big part of the problem, the telcos don't make this
information readily available in a form ISPs can use, and even if they
did it'd depend on the specific service option the customer had. In
our experience customers don't generally know what phone service they
have in any useful way (such as the exact name the telco calls it,
circle dialing, metro calling, etc.)

I've had an ILEC refuse to tell me (a CLEC customer) where _their_ "rate
center" for my numbers was. That it was 'proprietary' information that they
would not release to non-customers. Never mind the fact that the reason
I wanted it, was to give it to those of *their* customers who were,
incidentally, also my customers.

And boy howdy we've tried to help, motivated by the occasional livid
customer who got an unexpectedly large bill. We've had a warning just
like the one suggested on our pick a number since before some list
members here were born.

It *is* definitely 'good business practice' to supply such advice to
"double check" the suggested number.

I question the _requirement_ -- and penalties for failure -- to do so.

The area transit authority publishes a _single_ 7-digit number that you
can call from anywere in the 6 NPA region they service to get travel
information. For large portions of the territory dialing that 'same NPA'
number results in a pricey INTRA-LATA toll call. For a differently-
delimited large area, dialing a different NPA, and then that 7-digits
gets you a much _less_expensive_ call to an apparent destination that
is (apparently, based on the rates) much 'closer to home'.

Why isn't the gov't requiring *them* to run a similar disclaimer -- and
with severe penalties for non-compliance -- on all their materials listing
that number?

In my not insignificant experience there's some VP inside every RBOC
cackling madly over the revenues generated by this confusion.

And, no, don't give me the old "don't attribute to malice what can be
adequately explained by stupidity."

It is *definitely* not stupidity.

In the case mentioned above, the ILEC was handing calls off to the
CLEC at points away from where the 'nearest' ILEC-CLEC inter-connect
to the CLEC POP was. Calls to lines that were only a few dozens of
numbers apart were being routed through _different_ tie-points, with
*different* costs to the caller.

(hoping this is still somewhat ontopic, should be much more ontopic than my last reply was)

Robert Bonomi wrote:

Authoritative answer: "Maybe."


Depends on the locale, the state regulators, and the phone company.

Frequently called "Lifeline" service, when marketed for the elderly,
disabled, etc.

No, that's wrong. Lifeline service can be flat rate too, it's for people who for whatever reason can't afford normal phone service (you must meet certain
income requirements).