What are access charges?
Access charges are the fees that local phone companies recover for the costs associated with using the local phone network for the purpose of making or receiving long distance calls. These charges are divided between the long distance company and the local customer. For the local customer, these fees usually are labeled on their bill as the “subscriber line charge” or “federal access charge.”
Why do I pay a subscriber line charge?
After the break-up of AT&T in 1982, the Federal Communications Commission adopted access charge rules to govern the way the local phone companies recover the costs of providing their network to long distance companies. Long distance calls can’t be made or completed without using the local company’s network.
Who is responsible for deciding that the subscriber line charge should increase?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is responsible for decisions made about subscriber line charges and has mandated this rate increase.
Would changing long distance providers change the amount of my subscriber line charge?
No. This subscriber line charge increase is not affected by which long distance company you use.
Should I be receiving a reduction in my long distance rates to compensate for the increased subscriber line charge?
It is up to your long distance carrier to decide whether or not you will receive any corresponding reduction in your long distance rates.
The FCC's website says that the subscriber line charge goes to the local telephone company. So, how can you say that you don't benefit from this subscriber line charge increase?
When the FCC mandated that local telephone companies must reduce the amount of money they collect from the long distance companies for the use of their local networks, they raised the cap on the subscriber line charge so that those lost funds could be recovered from the customer. The telephone company does not gain any revenue from the subscriber line increase, it just recovers some of its costs. The FCC reduced the access charges that long distance companies pay to local telephone companies knowing that an increase in the subscriber line charge cap would be necessary if the local telephone companies were to remain whole.
Who can I contact to share my concerns about the subscriber line charge?
You may wish to share your concerns with Congress. Contact information for your representatives in the U.S. House can be found at www.house.gov. Contact information for your U.S. Senators can be found at www.senate.gov.
Are discounts available for low-income households?
Residential phone and internet customers may qualify for the Minnesota Telephone Assistance Plan (TAP) and/or Lifeline discounts. Click here for more information and an application.