WSR 07-18-009

PERMANENT RULES

UTILITIES AND TRANSPORTATION

COMMISSION

[ Docket UT-070199, General Order R-543 -- Filed August 23, 2007, 11:56 a.m. , effective September 23, 2007 ]

In the matter of amending WAC 480-120-262 relating to operator service providers and E911 emergency calls.

1 STATUTORY OR OTHER AUTHORITY: The Washington utilities and transportation commission (commission) takes this action under Notice No. WSR 07-11-050, filed with the code reviser on May 10, 2007. The commission brings this proceeding pursuant to RCW 80.01.040, 80.04.160.

2 STATEMENT OF COMPLIANCE: This proceeding complies with the Administrative Procedure Act (chapter 34.05 RCW), the State Register Act (chapter 34.08 RCW), the State Environmental Policy Act of 1971 (chapter 43.21C RCW), and the Regulatory Fairness Act (chapter 19.85 RCW).

3 DATE OF ADOPTION: The commission adopts this rule on the date that this order is entered.

4 CONCISE STATEMENT OF PURPOSE AND EFFECT OF THE RULE: RCW 34.05.325(6) requires the commission to prepare and provide to commenters a concise explanatory statement about an adopted rule. The statement must identify the commission's reasons for adopting the rule, a description of the differences between the version of the proposed rules published in the register and the rules adopted (other than editing changes), a summary of the comments received regarding the proposed rule changes, and the commission's responses to the comments reflecting the commission's consideration of them.

5 In this docket, to avoid unnecessary duplication, the commission designates the discussion in this order, including Appendix A, as its concise explanatory statement, supplemented where not inconsistent by the staff memoranda preceding the filing of the CR-102 proposal and the adoption hearing. Together, the documents provide a complete but concise explanation of the agency actions and its reasons for taking those actions.

6 REFERENCE TO AFFECTED RULES: This order amends the following section of the Washington Administrative Code: WAC 480-120-262, governing operator service providers (OSPs).

7 PREPROPOSAL STATEMENT OF INQUIRY AND ACTIONS THEREUNDER: The commission filed a preproposal statement of inquiry (CR-101) on February 7, 2007, at WSR 07-04-108.

8 The statement advised interested persons that the commission was considering entering a rule making to amend the rule by deleting subsection (8) of WAC 480-120-262 relating to the obligations of operator service providers (OSPs) for handling emergency, or E-911, calls. Because of new technology, the commission was concerned that the requirement may be obsolete. The commission also informed persons of the inquiry into this matter by providing notice of the subject and the CR-101 to all persons on the commission's list of persons requesting such information pursuant to RCW 34.05.320(3) and by sending notice to all registered telecommunications companies, the commission's list of telecommunications attorneys, and the list for all persons interested in rule-making dockets. The commission posted the relevant rule-making information on its internet web site at http://www.utc.wa.gov/070199. Pursuant to the notice, the commission received comments from five telecommunications companies stating support of the review of the rule.

9 NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULE MAKING: The commission filed a notice of proposed rule making (CR-102) on May 10, 2007, at WSR 07-11-050. The commission scheduled this matter for oral comment and adoption under Notice No. WSR 07-11-050 at 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, August 15, 2007, in the Commission's Hearing Room, Second Floor, Richard Hemstad Building, 1300 South Evergreen Park Drive S.W., Olympia, WA. The notice provided interested persons the opportunity to submit written comments to the commission.

10 WRITTEN COMMENTS: The commission received written comments from Qwest Corporation and Verizon Northwest Inc. supporting the proposal to remove subsection (8) from WAC 480-120-262.

11 RULE-MAKING HEARING: The commission considered the proposed rule for adoption at a rule-making hearing on August 15, 2007, before Chairman Mark H. Sidran, Commissioner Patrick J. Oshie, and Commissioner Philip B. Jones. Robert Oenning of the Military Department, Emergency Management Division, attended the hearing in support of the adoption, but did not make oral comments.

12 COMMISSION ACTION: After considering all of the information regarding this proposal, the commission finds and concludes that it should amend the rule as proposed in the CR-102 at WSR 07-11-050.

13 STATEMENT OF ACTION; STATEMENT OF EFFECTIVE DATE: After reviewing the entire record, the commission determines that WAC 480-120-262 should be amended to read as set forth in Appendix A, as a rule of the Washington utilities and transportation commission, to take effect pursuant to RCW 34.05.380(2) on the thirty-first day after filing with the code reviser.

Number of Sections Adopted in Order to Comply with Federal Statute: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; Federal Rules or Standards: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; or Recently Enacted State Statutes: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted at Request of a Nongovernmental Entity: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted on the Agency's Own Initiative: New 0, Amended 1, Repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted in Order to Clarify, Streamline, or Reform Agency Procedures: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted Using Negotiated Rule Making: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; Pilot Rule Making: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; or Other Alternative Rule Making: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0.


ORDER

THE COMMISSION ORDERS:

14 The commission amends WAC 480-120-262 to read as set forth in Appendix A, as a rule of the Washington utilities and transportation commission, to take effect on the thirty-first day after the date of filing with the code reviser pursuant to RCW 34.05.380(2).

15 This order and the rule set out below, after being recorded in the register of the Washington utilities and transportation commission, shall be forwarded to the code reviser for filing pursuant to chapters 80.01 and 34.05 RCW and 1-21 WAC.

DATED at Olympia, Washington, August 22, 2007.

Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission

Mark H. Sidran, Chairman

Patrick J. Oshie, Commissioner

Philip B. Jones, Commissioner

OTS-9735.1


AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending Docket No. UT 040015, General Order No. R-516, filed 1/10/05, effective 2/10/05)

WAC 480-120-262   Operator service providers (OSPs).   (1) Only for the purpose of this section:

"Consumer" means the party paying for a call using operator services. For collect calls, a consumer is both the originating party and the party who receives the call.

"Customer" means the call aggregator or pay phone service provider (PSP) contracting with an operator service provider (OSP) for service, such as hotel, motel, hospital, correctional facility, prison, campus, or similar entity.

"Operator service provider (OSP)" means any corporation, company, partnership, or person providing a connection to intrastate or interstate long-distance or to local services from locations of call aggregators.

"Operator services" means any telecommunications service provided to a call aggregator location that includes automated or live assistance to consumers in billing or completing (or both) telephone calls, other than those billed to the number from which the call originated or those completed through an access code used to bill a consumer's account previously established with the company.

This section applies to OSPs providing operator services from pay phones and other call aggregator locations. Each OSP must maintain a current list of the customers it serves in Washington and the locations and telephone numbers where the service is provided.

(2) Posted disclosure. OSPs must post clearly, legibly, and unobstructed, on or near the front of the pay phone the presubscribed OSP's name, address, and toll-free number, as registered with the commission. This information must be updated within thirty days after a change of OSPs. OSPs must post a notice to consumers that they can access other long distance companies and, in contrasting colors, the commission compliance number for consumer complaints and the following information:


"If you have a complaint about service from this pay phone and are unable to resolve it by calling the repair or refund number or operator, please call the commission at 1-888-333-WUTC (9882)."


(3) Oral disclosure of rates. This subsection applies to all calls from pay phones or other call aggregator locations, including, but not limited to, prison phones and store-and-forward pay phones or "smart" phones. When a collect call is placed, both the consumer placing the call and the consumer receiving the call must be given the rate quote options required by this section.

(a) Oral rate disclosure message required. Before an operator-assisted call from a call aggregator location can be connected by an OSP (whether by a presubscribed or other provider), the OSP must first provide an oral rate disclosure message to the consumer. If the charges to the consumer do not exceed the benchmark rate in (f) of this subsection, the oral rate disclosure message must comply with the requirements of (b) of this subsection. In all other instances, the oral rate disclosure message must comply with the requirements of (c) of this subsection.

(b) Rate disclosure method when charges do not exceed benchmark. The oral rate disclosure message must state that the consumer may receive a rate quote and explain the method of obtaining the quote. The method of obtaining the quote may be by pressing a specific key or keys, but no more than two keys, or by staying on the line. If the consumer follows the directions to obtain the rate quote, the OSP must state all rates and charges that will apply if the consumer completes the call.

(c) Rate disclosure method when rates exceed benchmark. The oral rate disclosure message must state all rates and charges that will apply if the consumer completes the call.

(d) Charge must not exceed rate quote. If the OSP provides a rate quote pursuant to either (b) or (c) of this subsection, the charges to the user must not exceed the quoted rate. If a consumer complains to the commission that the charges exceeded the quoted rate, and the consumer states the exact amount of the quote, there will be a rebuttable presumption that the quote provided by the complaining consumer was the quote received by the consumer at the time the call was placed or accepted.

(e) Completion of call. Following the consumer's response to any of the above, the OSP must provide oral information advising that the consumer may complete the call by entering the consumer's calling card number.

(f) Benchmark rates. An OSP's charges for a particular call exceed the benchmark rate if the sum of all charges, other than taxes and fees required by law to be assessed directly on the consumer, would exceed, for any duration of the call, the sum of fifty cents multiplied by the duration of the call in minutes plus fifty cents. For example, an OSP's charges would exceed the benchmark rate if any of these conditions were true:

(i) Charges for a one-minute call exceeded one dollar;

(ii) Charges for a five-minute call exceeded three dollars; or

(iii) Charges for a ten-minute call exceeded five dollars and fifty cents.

(4) Access. Pay phones must provide access to the services identified in WAC 480-120-263(3).

(5) Branding. The OSP must identify audibly and distinctly the OSP providing the service at the beginning of every call, including an announcement to the called party on collect calls. The OSP must ensure that the call begins no later than immediately following the prompt to enter billing information on automated calls and on live and automated operator calls, when the call is initially routed to the operator. The OSP must state the name of the company as registered with the commission (or its registered "doing business as" name) whenever referring to the OSP. When not necessary to identify clearly the OSP, the company may omit terms such as "company," "communications," "incorporated," or "of the Northwest."

(6) Billing. The OSP must provide to the billing company applicable call detail necessary for billing purposes and an address and toll-free number for consumer inquiries. The OSP must ensure that consumers are not billed for calls that are not completed. For billing purposes calls must be itemized, identified, and rated from the point of origination to the point of termination. An OSP may not transfer a call to another company unless the call can be billed from the point of origin. The OSP must provide specific call detail upon request, in accordance with WAC 480-120-161 (Form of bills). Charges billed to a credit card need not conform to the call detail requirements of that section.

(7) Operational capabilities. The OSP must answer at least ninety percent of all calls within ten seconds of the time the call reaches the company's switch. The OSP must maintain adequate facilities in all locations so the overall blockage rate for lack of facilities, including the facilities for access to consumers' preferred interexchange companies, does not exceed one percent in the time-consistent busy hour. Should excessive blockage occur, the OSP must determine what caused the blockage and take immediate steps to correct the problem. The OSP must reoriginate calls to another company upon request and without charge when technically able to accomplish reorigination with screening and allow billing from the point of origin of the call. If reorigination is not available, the OSP must provide dialing instructions for the consumer's preferred company.

(8) ((Emergency calls. For purposes of emergency calls, every OSP must be able to transfer the caller into the appropriate E911 system and to the public safety answering point (PSAP) serving the location of the caller with a single keystroke from the operator's console, to include automatic identification of the exact location and address from which the call is being made. The OSP must be able to stay on the line with the emergency call until the PSAP representative advises the operator that they are no longer required to stay on the call. The OSP must provide a toll-free number for direct access to PSAPs should additional information be needed when responding to a call for assistance from a phone using the provider's services. That emergency contact information must not be considered proprietary.

(9))) Fraud protection.

(a) A company may not bill a call aggregator for:

(i) Charges billed to a line for originating calls using company access codes, toll-free access codes, or originating calls that otherwise reach an operator position if the originating line subscribed to outgoing call screening or pay phone specific ANI coding digits and the call was placed after the effective date of the outgoing call screening or pay phone specific ANI coding digits order; or

(ii) Collect or third-number-billed calls if the line serving the call that was billed had subscribed to incoming call screening (also termed "billed number screening") and if the call was placed after the effective date of the call screening service order.

(b) The access line provider must remove from the call aggregator's bill any calls billed through the access line provider in violation of this subsection. If investigation by the access line provider determines that the pertinent call screening or pay phone specific ANI coding digits was operational when the call was made, the access line provider may return the charges for the call to the company as not billable.

(c) Any call billed directly by an OSP, or through a billing method other than the access line provider, which is billed in violation of this subsection, must be removed from the call aggregator's bill. The company providing the service may request an investigation by the access line provider. If the access line provider determines that call screening or pay phone specific ANI coding digits (which would have prevented the call) was subscribed to by the call aggregator and was not operational at the time the call was placed, the OSP must bill the access line provider for the call.

(((10))) (9) Suspension. The commission may suspend the registration of any company providing operator services if the company fails to meet minimum service levels or to provide disclosure to consumers of protection available under chapter 80.36 RCW and pertinent rules.

Except as required by federal law, no provider of pay phone access line service may provide service to any OSP whose registration is suspended.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 80.01.040 and 80.04.160. 05-03-031 (Docket No. UT 040015, General Order No. R-516), 480-120-262, filed 1/10/05, effective 2/10/05; 03-01-065 (Docket No. UT-990146, General Order No. R-507), 480-120-262, filed 12/12/02, effective 7/1/03.]

Washington State Code Reviser's Office