Miscellaneous recurring charges billed by the LEC

In addition to line charges, local calling, and intralata calling, the local phone bill will include additional charges. Most of these items are optional but some are almost always mandatory, such as the FCC charge and touch-tone service. Optional services are normally nonregulated, so charges will vary from market to market. One thing these services have in common is that they are services of convenience. For example, the average business can usually live without call forwarding or voice mail, but these services certainly make doing business more convenient.

Optional services are usually listed in the first pages of your local phone book. Carriers change their service offerings frequently, so you may want to call the carrier to find out exactly what is being offered today.

Does the money for the “FCC Charge” really go to the FCC?
In addition to the charge for the actual phone line, local carriers also charge a fee with each line. During the negotiations associated with the breakup of AT&T in the early 1980s, the Bell companies argued that AT&T would get more money because long-distance service has higher profit margins than local service. They also complained that they had to bear the high cost of maintaining the local lines from the central office all the way to the business or residence. This was a legitimate concern, so the government allowed the LECs to subsidize their costs by charging each customer a fee per line.

On the phone bill, this fee usually reads “FCC Approved Line Charge” or “Interstate Access Fee.” The fee is usually around $8 per line. The money does not actually go to the FCC—that organization is funded by our taxes. Instead, this money goes directly to the local carrier as additional revenue. Over the years, this fee has steadily increased, like most other charges on the local phone bill.

This fee is not negotiable, so the chances of saving any money here are slim. The only way to cut this cost is to order your customer service records from the local phone company and ensure that the number of fees charged does not exceed the number of lines charged.

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