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Federal agency implements regulation requiring phone companies to increase subscriber line fees

By Sun Advocate

Beginning in January, telephone customers can expect to start the rate increase cycle that seems to be set to last during the course of one to two years.
Rather than customer service, accommodating the long distance telephone carriers appears to be the top priority of the United States Federal Communications Commission.
The FTC recently passed an order requiring all local telephone companies to increase subscribers’ line charges. The hike will affect all phone users across the nation, including Carbon/Emery Telcom customers.
Effective Jan. 1, the monthly residential or single-line business subscriber or end user charge will increase from $3.50 to $5 per line. Some business customers will also see an increase in the multi-line subscriber charge. Currently, multi-line business line users pay $6 for the SLC charge and the fee could raise as high as $9.20. The increase includes systems that utilize extension services.
The increases are a direct result of new pricing regulations put in place by the FCC. The regulations mandate local phone companies to lower access charges to long distance carriers and recover an increased portion of the costs directly from local service customers.
“We don’t benefit from this increase and neither do our customers. They don’t receive increased service for their increased subscriber line charge, and for us, the change in revenues is zero,” pointed out Greg Killpack, Carbon/Emery Telcom general manager.
“We feel for our customers who have to bear the brunt of this increase. The benefactors of this subscriber line charge increase are the big long distance companies,” added the local telephone company representative.
The new charges, combined with access charges paid by long distance carriers, are the fees that phone companies collect for the costs associated with using local networks to make or receive long distance calls.
The FCC has mandated that local companies reduce the access charges paid by long distance carriers and increase the subscriber line fees paid by telephone customers.
Residential customers may also receive rate increases in subscriber line charges throughout 2002. It is possible that the charge per line may climb to $6 by July 2002, then raise once again to $6.50 per line by July 2003.
The FCC hopes that long distance carriers will compensate customers for the rate increase by reducing charges for service. The decision will be made by each individual long distance carrier.
Customers who currently receive financial assistance for telephone bills like lifeline support, need not worry about picking up the added costs. The rate increase will be covered by the support service.
The rate increase was mandated by the FCC and Carbon/Emery Telcom must comply with the federal agency’s decision.
Concerns should be directed to the FCC. Customers may contact the agency toll-free at 1-888-CALL-FCC or 1-888-TELL-FCC. Residents may also file complaints via the agency’s website at www.fcc.gov. In addition, correspondence may be sent to Federal Communications Commission, Consumer Information Bureau, Consumer Complaints, 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20554.

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