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FCC Ensures Americans Can Access Zoom and WebEx During COVID-19 Crisis

On March 27, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission issued a temporary waiver of its access arbitrage rules to Inteliquent, a telecommunications company that carries traffic for two of the nation’s largest conference calling providers, Zoom Video Communications and Cisco WebEx.  Absent today’s waiver from the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau, the massive increase in conference calls made by American consumers using Zoom and WebEx to work and attend classes from home during the COVID-19 pandemic would likely result in Inteliquent being deemed an “access-stimulating” carrier under the FCC’s rules.  This, in turn, would trigger financial responsibilities—namely significant cost increases—for Inteliquent that would impede its ability to serve these conference calling companies.

“This nationwide pandemic has fundamentally changed our daily lives.  Americans across the country—me included—have transitioned to teleworking, and their kids have transitioned to remote learning.  Inteliquent’s customers enable these things to happen by providing popular conference calling platforms,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.  “Given the sharp increase in conference calling traffic, we’ve granted a waiver to Inteliquent so it can continue to provide service to these platforms, specifically by avoiding unintended, negative financial consequences under our access arbitrage rules.  Those rules targeted companies that have been exploiting our intercarrier compensation system by generating inflated call volumes to pad their bottom lines.  They weren’t intended to ensnare companies that, during a national emergency, are experiencing unprecedented call volumes that would push them out of compliance without a waiver.” 

The temporary waiver, which is based on circumstances specific to Inteliquent and detailed in the order, will expire on June 1, 2020, and Inteliquent may seek renewal of the waiver if necessary.

For updates on the FCC’s wide array of actions to keep consumers connected during the coronavirus pandemic, visit: https://www.fcc.gov/coronavirus.  

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