Pac-West Goes to War With AT&T

     AUSTIN (CN) – AT&T is threatening to terminate services to Pac-West Telecomm, which could cost emergency service providers in Texas, Nevada and California their phone service, Pac-West claims in court.
     Stockton, Calif.-based Pac-West Telecomm and its Austin-based subsidiary, Tex-Link Communications, sued AT&T Texas, Nevada Bell Telephone Co., AT&T Communications of California, and Pacific Bell Telephone Co., in Travis County Court. Pac-West claims AT&T owes it more than $2.58 million in inter-carrier compensation, even after AT&T unilaterally took more than $2.11 million in offsetting payments it claims Pac-West owes.
     “Defendants do not have any legal justification to shut off this service,” the complaint states. “Shutting off this service would irreparably harm plaintiffs by damaging its customers, reputation, and ability to provide service.”
     Pac-West’s customers include companies that provide paging services to hospitals, first responders, medical and law offices, and possibly an Army base.
     It claims that wrongful disconnection will cause unknown harm to third-party customers who rely on emergency services.
     “Plaintiffs have attempted to resolve this dispute on numerous occasions from September to present without any avail,” the complaint states. “Unlike the defendants, plaintiffs cannot simply … stop providing services to defendants and in turn defendants’ customer[s] (businesses and end-user consumers), due to state and federal regulations.” (Parentheses in complaint.)
     This is not the first dispute between Pac-West and AT&T. In June 2011, the 9th Circuit reversed a ruling ordering AT&T to pay Pac-West $7 million for Internet service that originated with AT&T and ended with Pac-West.
     The three-judge panel ruled that Internet-traffic payment rates between local telecommunications carriers are governed by Federal Communications Commission regulations, not by prices set at the state level.
     Pac-West seeks actual and punitive damages and injunctive relief for breach of contract. It is represented by Andrew Brown of Austin.

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