NECA filed its 2020 Modification of Average Schedules on December 23rd, to be effective for one year beginning July 1st, 2020. The proposal, which in all probability will be approved by the FCC, contains both good news and bad news
The good news? The schedules, in total, will increase by about 3.3 % assuming constant demand, with about 100 companies receiving higher settlements. The bad? Some 156 companies will see their settlements decrease. These reductions, not surprisingly, are caused primarily by the mandated 5% annual phase down of switched settlements.
We have sometimes criticized NECA for decreases or smaller-than-hoped-for increases in average schedule settlements. Unlike the “old days,” however, when AT&T and USITA jointly negotiated and developed new schedules, there is no real latitude in today’s process While AT&T and USITA often built incentives into various schedules to encourage the deployment of newer switching, or ticketing, or transmission equipment by the smaller carriers, NECA today must adhere to more stringent FCC rules.
In those bygone days, AT&T and USITA would hammer out a set of schedules through hard and often cantankerous negotiation, under broad regulatory rules, but schedules that would still move small companies ahead by rewarding their installation of new and better equipment. The FCC would generally approve the joint industry recommendation. Today, there is more FCC oversight of tighter rules, giving NECA far less room to help the smaller average schedule companies.
Similar to what is now happening in so many areas of our lives, we tend – at least with the average schedule process – to get a little nostalgic for “the good old days.”
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of our friends!