Qwest sues AT&T over Internet long-distance calls

Qwest Communications International Inc. last week filed suit against AT&T Corp., claiming its rival carried some part of phone calls over the Internet in an effort to avoid paying tens of millions of dollars in access fees. Last month, SBC Communications Inc. filed a similar suit against the carrier, saying it's owed US$141 million in access fees. Instead of using local carriers to complete long-distance calls, AT&T put these calls over the Internet at some point to avoid paying tariffed access fees to them, the local exchange carriers say. The suit is based on the fact that the FCC rejected a bid from AT&T suggesting it pay lower access fees for calls that travel over the Internet. But the FCC did not say that AT&T is required to pay LECs retroactively for past traffic handled in this manner. Instead the government agency said the courts would look at each case individually.

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