Farmers and Merchants Mutual Telephone Co. v. FCC, et al., No. 10-1093 (D.C. Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
In three challenged orders, the Commission addressed a "traffic pumping" scheme in which the holder of the filed tariff entered into contractual arrangements with conference calling companies and charged the interexchange carrier the tariff rate for providing switched access service. Farmers, the holder of the tariff, petitioned for review. As a threshold matter, Farmers, joined by intervenor, contended that the Commission lacked authority to overturn its decision in Farmers I because it failed, as 47 U.S.C. 405(b) required, to act within 90 days on Qwest's petition for partial reconsideration and consequently, Farmers I became a final appealable order. The court held that the contention was based on a misreading of the statute. The merits question was whether the Commission properly determined that Farmers was not entitled to bill Qwest for access service under Farmers' tariff because Farmers had not provided interstate "switched access service" as that term was defined in Farmers' federal access tariff. The court held that the Commission, upon considering factors within its expertise, could reasonably conclude that Farmers' relationships with the conference calling companies had been deliberately structured to fall outside the terms of Farmers' tariff and therefore reasonably rejected such services as tariffed services. Therefore, deference to the Commission's determination was appropriate. Accordingly, the court denied the petition.