Deputy Director-General Antônio Carlos Valente says Anatel has no intention of altering the rule obliging ILECs to pay compensatory rates on calls originating in their networks to CLECS when the volume of outbound traffic is more than 55% that of inbound traffic. The ILECs have been lobbying for a change, or at least an exception for Internet connections, which are always one-way (from user to the ISP). Anatel can?t tweak the rules in response to pressure from this or that vested interest, he argues. As for the applicability of ?bill-and-keep?, he notes, here too the rules exempt a telco from payment on outbound traffic only when its volume is equal to inbound traffic.
ILECs and ISPs want an exception to be made for dialup Internet connections, whereas CLECs and Embratel, the incumbent long-distance carrier, want the rules to be left as they stand. Those advocating change say the CLECs drive up traffic volumes in their favor by offering free Internet services. The ILECs themselves have invested in free ISPs, possibly aiming to offset this trend. Telemar has IG; Brasil Telecom iBest; Telefonica recently began testing its own free Internet service, iTelefonica; GVT, a large CLEC, has a free ISP called Pop. Paid ISPs are caught in the crossfire, fearing a drain on their subscriber bases and the emergence of a telco monopoly on Internet service. Antônio Valente sees no problem with free service even when offered by a telco. Higher traffic volumes over telephone networks boost telco profitability and customers benefit from free service, he says. ISPs must offer value-added services and top-quality content to attract paying customers. ?I myself pay a subscription to my ISP,? he notes. ?I wouldn?t switch to a free service for the world.?