Once used by thousands of companies, and at the center of more than a few industry battles, the interstate average schedules have settled into a kind of quiet anonymity.
There are only 310 study areas still using the schedules, according to NECA’s 2017 annual filing of schedule modifications. The conversion to cost based settlements, the adoption of the FCC’s ACAM support model, plus mergers and acquisitions, have thinned the ranks of RLECs using the schedules to a relative handful, compared to the past.
Before Divestiture and the advent of NECA in 1984, development of the schedules was the joint responsibility of the old USITA and the pre-divestiture AT&T/Bell System. It was really a somewhat adversarial process with experts from USITA and its member companies doing friendly – and at times, quite unfriendly – battle with Bell System representatives. The fights – or strong disagreements – between the parties often led to the intervention of top executives from AT&T and the Independents industry.
Warren French, Chairman of USITA’s Average Schedule Committee, was the long-time champion of the Independent companies. Starting in the late ‘70s, ICORE’S founder, Jan Reimers, was the USITA staff member working with Mr. French to get the best set of schedules possible for what are now called RLECs. After years of dealing with the contentious relations between USITA and AT&T, Jan was loaned to NECA as its Manager of Average Schedules, tasked with developing schedules for the post-divestiture industry.
When the Bell-dominated NECA – over his objections — proposed a new set of schedules that would severely damage a number of high toll volume average schedule companies, Jan started ICORE. A major battle ensued over the next several years between ICORE and NECA, before the FCC. In the end, ICORE’s work resulted in many beneficial changes, including structural improvements, delayed implementation, and a far more gradual transition to the new schedules than NECA’s originally-proposed flash cut would have allowed. Small companies were spared huge and immediate revenue reductions, and given time to adjust.
Fast forward to the present, and NECA’s 2017 modification of the average schedules. The minor revisions and 0.74% overall increase in settlements elicited barely a yawn – and that’s probably a good thing.
But the interstate average schedules are still very important to the RLECs that use them, and ICORE has always been a strong advocate for average schedule companies. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns with your average schedule settlements.