Charleston County claims nearly two dozen telephone companies have failed to bill businesses for 911 service fees. So the county is suing them.
The action is believed to be the first of its kind in South Carolina, according to a release from the Motley Rice law firm.
State law allows counties to impose a monthly charge (50 cents in Charleston County’s case) on all telephone service lines to help cover 911 costs. The lawsuit contends that at least 19 companies operating in Charleston County are not charging their business customers for 911 fees, thereby breaking the law.
“We believe that Charleston County is potentially due millions in uncollected 911 charges,” State Sen. Marlon Kimpson, a lead attorney in the case, said in a statement. “It is not up to telecommunication companies to decide whether or not to bill its business customers and collect the 911 charges, which are critical to maintaining the 911 emergency services infrastructure.”
The suit filed in state court, seeks the uncollected fees and changes in the way the companies’ billing practices so the county can collect the fees.
The filing says those telecommunications providers appear to be charging residential phone customers for the service, but not businesses.
The companies named in the lawsuit are: AT&T, BellSouth Telecommunications, Teleport Communications America, Bandwidth.com CLEC, United Telephone Company of the Carolinas, Comcast Phone of South Carolina, DeltaCom, Business Telecom, Knology Broadband, Knology of South Carolina, Knology of Charleston, Level 3 Communications, Level 3 Telecom of South Carolina, Time Warner Cable Information Services, Telcove Operations, McClellanville Telephone, US LEC of South Carolina, Windstream Nuvox and YMAX Communications.