Traffic pumping fight heats up in South Dakota

Traffic pumping is in the news again. The Chicago Tribune has an Associated Press story on how the practice, which has caused controversy in Iowa in recent years, is now at the center of a legal battle between major long-distance carriers and local independent telcos. Traffic pumping puts small local telcos in league with free teleconference services and similar ventures, enabling those parties to share the revenue that the local telcos bring in from charging the big long-distance players to connect their teleconference calls locally.

The practice is not illegal, at least in South Dakota, and has not yet been addressed by the Federal Communications Commission, so the companies involved instead have been fighting their battles in the courts, with the small telcos suing the bigger ones for not paying their bills, and the big telcos counter-suing. It seems like this issue will continue to arise in several places until the FCC formalizes broader rules around access charge regulations, but with national broadband planning and other issues on its plate, it's anyone's guess when that will happen.

The AP story mentions the small telcos involved and their South Dakota home bases: Sancom Inc. of Mitchell, Northern Valley Communications LLC of Aberdeen and Splitrock Properties Inc. of Garretson. As you might expect, the big telcos' names are slightly more familiar: AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Business and Qwest.

For more:
- The Chicago Tribune has the AP story

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