The COMMISSION ESTABLISHES RULES PROMOTING EFFICIENT USE, FAIR
DISTRIBUTION OF TOLL FREE NUMBERS. Report No: CC-97-17. by 2nd R&O &
FNPRM. Action by: the Commission. Adopted: April 4, 1997. Dkt No.:
CC-95-155. (FCC No. 97-123)
The document is 80 pages long. In advance of a more thorough ICB
analysis of the ruling and its implications, here are the highlights
affecting toll-free users.
The FCC has interpreted Section 201(b) of the Communications Act to
empower the Commission to ensure that toll free numbers, which are a
scarce and valuable national public resource, are allocated in an
equitable and orderly manner that serves the public interest.
1. Subscriber interests denied.
We find that there is a "legitimate governmental interest or rational
basis" for declaring that toll free numbers are a public resource.
2. Rebuttal Presumption of Hoarding.
Hoarding is defined as a toll free subscriber acquiring more numbers
from a RespOrg than it intends to use immediately.
Commission asserts the right to question the use of toll free numbers
even if subscribers are paying their bills. Routing multiple toll free
numbers to a single subscriber will create a rebuttable presumption of
hoarding or brokering.
Furthermore, There is no way to determine if a subscriber is
maintaining an inventory because it may soon have a need for the
numbers, or if the subscriber is building a supply of numbers for
possible sale, but in either scenario the numbers are unavailable for
toll free subscribers that have an immediate need.
Telemarketing Service Bureaus appear to be exempt. The language is
We conclude that, to the extent that telemarketing service bureaus are
performing legitimate services, and not merely buying and selling
numbers, such activity would not be considered "hoarding."
Other factors that may be considered if a toll free subscriber is
alleged to be hoarding or brokering numbers are the amount of calling of
a particular number and the rate at which a particular subscriber
changes toll free numbers.
3. Rebuttal Presumption of Warehousing.
Similarly, ...if a Responsible Organization does not have an identified
toll free subscriber agreeing to be billed for service associated with
each toll free number reserved from the database, or if a Responsible
Organization does not have an identified, billed toll free subscriber
before switching a number from reserved or assigned to working status,
then there is a rebuttable presumption that the Responsible Organization
is warehousing numbers. Responsible Organizations that warehouse
numbers will be subject to penalties.
4. RespOrg Penalties.
We conclude that the Commission's exclusive jurisdiction over the
portions of the North American Numbering Plan that pertain to the
United States, found at 251(e)(1) of the Communications Act, as
amended, authorizes the Commission to penalize RespOrgs that warehouse
toll free numbers. We may impose a forfeiture penalty under 503(b).
In addition, if a person violates a provision of the Communications
Act or a rule or regulation issued by the Commission under authority
of the Communications Act, the Commission can refer the matter to the
Department of Justice to determine whether a fine, imprisonment, or
both are warranted under 501 or 502 of the Communications Act. We
also may limit any RespOrg's allocation of toll free numbers or
possibly decertify it as a RespOrg under 251(e)(1) or 4(i). In
addition, RespOrgs that falsely indicate that they have identified
subscribers for particular numbers may be liable for false statements
under Title 18 of the United States Code. We direct DSMI, and any
successor toll free administrator, to monitor reserved numbers that
are being automatically recaptured after 45 days and to submit regular
reports to the Common Carrier Bureau, indicating which RespOrgs
repeatedly reserve toll free numbers without having an identified
5. Subscriber Penalties.
Toll free subscribers that hoard or broker numbers will be subject to
penalties similar to those we will impose for warehousing. The
penalties may include, but are not limited to, a forfeiture penalty
under 503(b) of the Communications Act. If a subscriber hoards numbers,
that subscriber's service provider must terminate toll free service.
> FCC ISSUES ORDER RE TOLL FREE ACCESS CODES
> In the Matter of Toll Free Service Access Codes, CC Docket No. 95-155.
> See URL:
> At first glance, reads like over-regulation, anti-competition, and
> government imposition. All together now -- can you say imminent
Judith Oppenheimer - 800 The Expert, ph 212 684-7210, fx 212 684-2714