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The move to competition in the local and long-distance telecommunication industries has raised a host of issues for state and federal policymakers. Many of these issues must be dealt with outside the realm of traditional law and economics.

Making a determination of when (and if) workable competition exists is an integral part of deciding whether (or to what extent) to relax historic rate base, rate of return regulation in favor of alternative regulatory forms. The presence or absence of workable competition depends on a consideration of consumer characteristics as well as industry characteristics.

Telecommunication industry decisions on when to deny service as a means to collect bills owed to another company has been found to involve antitrust violations. Refusals to deal and unlawful tying arrangements exist in efforts to engage in joint credit and collection activities.

Efforts to limit access to the long distance toll network and to collect past due bills must be carefully designed to comply with state and federal consumer protection, consumer credit, and debt collection practices statutes. Practices ranging from the demand for deposits to the extension of toll limiters implicate federal and state consumer protection laws.

The pursuit of universal telephone service has a variety of aspects. Considerations include: designing and funding a universal service program, measuring the performance of such a program, and assessing how basic local and inter-exchange rate designs promote or impede universal service.

FSC's telecommunications work includes:

Consideration of the consumer credit implications of Southern New England Telephone Company's collection activities.

Consideration of the antitrust aspects of the U.S.West proposal to disconnect local service for nonpayment of toll bills.
Consideration of the rationality of local security deposit practices in Washington State.
Discussion of the consumer characteristics that must be considered in making a determination of whether workable competition exists.
Discussion of the fair credit reporting implications of local telecommunication provider credit history sharing with interexchange carriers.
Discussion of quality of service standards for competitive telecommunication providers in Massachusetts.

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Telecommunications Credit and Collections and Controlling SNET Uncollectibles

Customer Deposit Demands by U.S. West: Reasonable Rationales and the Proper Assessment of Risk
Consumer Information and Workable Competition in Telecommunications Markets
When the Phone Company Is Not a Phone Company: Credit Reporting in the Postdivestiture Era

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