Alphabet soup of telecom associations and task groups

by Barbara Vrahnos, project manager – Access Technology and Planning

It is clear we are in an acronym-driven industry. Many of the industry associations and task groups on which NECA employees participate carry their own unique handle: CIGRR, BIRRDS and LERG are a few of my favorites. Please allow me to familiarize you with this telecom alphabet soup.


While CIGRR sure sounds like something to be smoked, it is short for Common Industry Group on Routing and Rating. Its role is to provide iconectiv (formerly Telcordia Technologies) with input to its BIRRDS (Business Integrated Routing & Rating Database System) and the BIRRDS output product, the LERG (Local Exchange Routing Guide). Panchali Das, Tariff No. 4 product manager at NECA and CIGRR member, provides subject matter expertise on the interdependence of Tariff No. 4 and the LERG. NECA’s representation on this committee provides a forum for our members’ industry issues and concerns as related to routing and rating. CIGRR meets four times per year, in addition to monthly conference calls. 


For over 30 years, NECA employees have held leadership positions on various ATIS (Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions) OBF (Ordering and Billing Forum) committees. The ATIS OBF “creates the collaborative standards and solutions that ensure accurate billing for the industry’s core services as well as emerging innovations. It is the industry’s go-to resource for resolving key issues and creating ordering, billing, provisioning and exchange of information solutions about access services as well as other connectivity between telecommunications customers and providers.”   

The OBF is responsible for numerous documents used by members to exchange critical information daily. NECA continues its work on several, such as:  

  • ASR (Access Service Request) and MECOD (Multiple Exchange Carrier Ordering Design) guidelines, both under the auspices of the OBF ASO (Access Services Ordering) committee.

  • MECAB (Multiple Exchange Carrier Access Billing) and SECAB (Small Exchange Carrier Access Billing) guidelines, which are developed and maintained by the OBF BRE (Billing and Record Exchange) committee.  

I began participating on the OBF ASO committee recently and have served for over a decade on the OBF BRE committee.  Both committees conduct monthly conference calls and meet once per year. The OBF ASO just approved a new version of MECOD requiring a common completion date be used by all exchange carriers involved in the ordering process. In other words, no exchange carrier may complete or start billing its portion of the access service until the entire service is completed and accepted.  


The ATIS TMOC (Telecom Management and Operations Committee) “develops operations, administration, maintenance and provisioning standards as well as other critical documentation related to Operations Support System and Network Element functions and interfaces for communications networks.”

NECA’s role as the maintenance agent for assigning and maintaining Company Codes falls directly under the authority of the TMOC. We adhere to the “Structure for the Representation of Service Providers for Information Exchange” standard. It is the authority for codes used to identify service providers in the industry. I represent NECA on frequent TMOC conference calls and serve as the editor of the recently approved standard. 


The RDTG (Rate Development Task Group) works to ensure new initiatives reflect the best interests of all pool members, and its members provide direct cost and demand input used to support new service tariff filings. The group supports NECA activities in the technology planning and rate development areas by providing a broad perspective on various industry issues as well as input on rate levels, rate structure, cost support and potential new service filings. The group consists of 15 representatives from member companies, two consultant advisors and rural association representatives. It is chaired by PJ Louis, NECA director of Technology Planning and Implementation, and administered by Ed Szczepanski, NECA project manager of Tech Planning and Tariff No. 4. They meet in person and conduct numerous informal discussions and conference calls throughout the year. 


The ASTG (Average Schedule Task Group) and CITG (Cost Issues Task Group) also meet regularly throughout the year and are both invaluable in assisting NECA staff and members on concepts and issues related to average schedule or cost-based settlements. Both groups are comprised of member company representatives nominated by national telecom associations, as well as NECA subject matter experts. The ASTG, chaired by one of the task group members, represents NECA pool members by making recommendations to staff and the NECA Board of Directors Average Schedule Committee regarding average schedule formula development. The CITG, chaired by NECA Southwestern Region Director Bob Tegels with input from several industry consultants, represents NECA pool members in identifying and providing input on accounting, tax, separations and other cost issues.

Your voice

We represent all our members on these various groups with one voice. As a significant contributor to the standards and guidelines that help our members conduct business, we are mindful of how one word in a document or one extra field on a form can impact members’ daily operations. If you need further information on any of these groups, we are happy to assist:


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