Thursday August 15, 7:14 am Eastern Time

Press Release

SOURCE: 1-800 AFTA

1-800 American Free Trade Association Formed to Represent Interests of Toll-free Number Services Industry

Group calls upon FCC to create a competitive marketplace for toll-free number services

BURLINGTON, Vt.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 15, 2002-- A new trade association, the 1-800 American Free Trade Association (1-800 AFTA) has been formed to represent the interests of the toll-free number services industry. The founding members envision that the organization will speak with a collective voice before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as well as working to define industry standards and practices.

A primary initial goal of the organization will be lobbying the FCC to create a competitive marketplace in toll-free numbers, particularly vanity numbers like 800-MATTRESS or 800-NEW-LOAN. In the words of AFTA President Mitchell Knisbacher, "Current FCC policy, by denying subscribers property rights to their toll-free numbers, precludes the development of an open market, inhibits competition, and deters investment in the development of brands such as 800-FLOWERS(TM) or 800-COLLECT(TM)."

FCC regulations prohibit the transfer of toll-free numbers, but participants at a FCC forum in March of this year acknowledged that the rules are frequently circumvented, presenting owners of toll-free numbers with the dilemma of having to break the law in order to compete on a level playing field. According to Judith Oppenheimer of the ICB Consultancy, "Businesses of all sizes are clamoring for access to invaluable 800 numbers, and current FCC policies curb orderly transfer and ownership of these assets. 1-800 AFTA has it right - an open market will benefit all players, the telecom industry, and the economy as a whole."

1-800 AFTA will also work to formulate a set of ethical business standards for the industry and implement standardized practices for toll-free number provisioning. It will participate in technical forums, focusing on issues such as the failure of many cellular carriers to complete calls when a vanity number is dialed with more than ten digits, such as 1-800-GO-TOYOTA.

Membership in 1-800 AFTA is open to all with an interest in the development of a competitive market, including users and providers of toll-free services, call centers, and direct marketing firms.

Additional information, including bylaws and membership information, is available at the organization's web site, 1800afta.org.

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Contact:

1-800 AFTA
Lara Bradwell, 802/383-0806
info@1800afta.org