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Wireless Dealer Magazine CITA 2013 Issue

W D M Growth of Prepaid Wireless Catches Eye of State & Local E-911 Authorities: 911 Regulations Evolving to Eliminate Loopholes and Exemptions for Prepaid By Jonathan S. Marashlian Most states require wireless telecommunications service providers to collect E911 fees from their customers and remit funds to various state and local 911 administrators. State and local government agencies use these funds to diffuse the cost of enhanced emergency assistance (911) service. Many state statutes imposing E911 fees were adopted ten or more years ago, when prepaid wireless services were in their infancy and represented a tiny fraction of users. Prepaid wireless services have since mushroomed in popularity, today representing over one-third of all wireless consumers. States have taken notice of the growth of prepaid wireless services. A number of states initially exempted prepaid wireless providers from the obligation to collect and remit E911 fees under existing laws, while they reviewed the feasibility of collecting E911 fees from prepaid customers. Prepaid services were excluded mainly due to the inherent difficulties in collecting surcharges from prepaid customers. For example, wireless fees were generally required to be collected on a monthly basis, listed on customer invoices, and sourced to a particular state based upon the customer’s billing address. But, many prepaid providers neither request customer addresses nor issue monthly invoices. Most prepaid plans are sold by third-party retailers that do not provide the underlying services and have no ongoing relationship with the customer. Absent monthly invoices, traditional billing methods to collect the E911 fee do not work. As a result, the existing statutes/E911 collection regimes were ill suited to the prepaid industry. A number of state legislatures ordered the E911 authority to conduct studies on the feasibility of requiring prepaid wireless service providers to collect an E911 fee from customers. Many such studies concluded that, with some modifications to existing laws, E911 surcharge collection from prepaid providers was feasible. As a result, over the last few years, as prepaid wireless communications services have grown in popularity and availability, states have either applied existing regulations to 140


Wireless Dealer Magazine CITA 2013 Issue
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