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Judge rules against Dixie-Net over in-state fees

OXFORD— Dixie-Net Communications Inc. has asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to hear its appeal of an adverse ruling in Mississippi over in-state fees.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports U.S. District Judge Michael Mills in Oxford ruled against Ripley-based Dixie-Net, a telecom business.

At issue is whether calls made under AT&T’s Area Calling Plan and Area Plus services should be treated as local traffic.

Dixie-Net asked the Mississippi Public Service Commission to resolve the dispute. In 2007, the PSC said the calls are local traffic and, therefore, AT&T isn’t required to pay inside-state switched access fees to Dixie-Net for these calls.

Dixie-Net appealed to chancery court in Tippah County. AT&T moved it to federal court.

In 2010, Dixie-Net sued BellSouth Telecommunications Inc., also known as AT&T Mississippi, and the PSC.

Dixie-Net claims that under federal law, “incumbent local exchange carriers” such as AT&T are required to contract with “competitive local exchange carriers” such as Dixie-Net to establish rates and other terms by which AT&T provides a connection to its network so that traffic can flow between them.

The act also requires connecting carriers to make arrangements to pay for calls that begin with one and end with the other.

Dixie-Net had argued before the PSC that calls beginning and ending in the same calling area are not local traffic, and therefore AT&T must pay Dixie-Net for the traffic.

The PSC disagreed.

In his April opinion, Mills said their agreement requires payment when a call is “local traffic,” not where it originates or ends. Mills said he found nothing wrong with the PSC’s decision.


Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

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