Helpful Terms

Federal Tax (Federal Excise Tax)
Appears on both your local and long distance phone bills. Charged as a percentage of your total bill regardless of your telephone carrier. It is 3% of long distance calls and 2.7% of local calls.

Federal Subscriber Line Charge (Subscriber Line Charge, SLC) 
Similar to the PICC. Regulated and capped by the FCC. It is not a charge by the government, it is not a tax. The number of calls you place or receive does not affect it. The money is paid to local telephone companies and will be charged to your local phone bill. The SLC fee pays local phone companies some of the costs of telephone lines connected to your home or business.
The current charge for primary residence lines and single-line business customers increased to $5.00 on July 1, 2001. The second and additional lines for residential service are considered non-primary lines and are subject to a higher line charge cap, even if the bill is in a second name at the same address. The Subscriber Line Charge for non-primary lines is capped at $7.00 per month thru June 30, 2005. For multi-line businesses the maximum charge is the telephone company’s average cost of providing a line in that state, or $9.20 per line per month, whichever is lower.

Monthly Fee (Monthly Service Fee, Access Fee)
Some companies charge a fixed monthly fee paid to your carrier regardless of your usage. Pay this in addition to the cost of your calls.

No Monthly Fee Partners: Americrom Residential Long DistanceCogniState Residential Long Distance

Municipal Charge
Charged by your local municipality to offset the costs of community services such as 911.

Number Portability Service Charge (Local Number Portability, LNP) 
FCC approved fee that pays local telephone companies for the expenses of allowing a consumer or business to retain their existing telephone number when switching long distance carriers. This is not a tax and the fee goes to the local telephone company.

PIC Switching Fee
Charged by the local provider when you change long distance carriers. The fee is normally $5-10 and charged on your local phone bill. After your service is switched, some carriers will reimburse the switching fee. To credit the fee, the carrier will probably request a copy of the phone bill with the switching fee.

PICC (Presubscribed Interexchange Carrier Charge, National Access Fee or Carrier Line Charge)
Long distance companies pay local phone companies a flat fee for access to their local phone network. The FCC regulates the price, but this is not a tax and the commission does not require long distance companies to pass these charges to consumers. Each long distance company pays the same flat rate per line and it is up to the company how to distribute this charge. Pay attention the PICC because each company charges differently. Some companies do not charge for the PICC. The PICC charge appears on your long distance bill.

USF (Universal Service Fund, Universal Service Charge)
A national policy to promote telephone service to all households. Telephone service is a vital link to emergency services, government agencies and surrounding communities and the USF is a subsidy to make phone service available for all Americans. This includes consumers with low incomes, schools and libraries and rural health care providers. All carriers are charged the same USF%. However, pay attention to this fee because companies have flexibility in passing this fee to customers. The charge ranges from no charge at all, a flat fee, % of interstate and international usage or % of entire bill. The company keeps the difference between the fees they receive and the charge they pay.

Taxes
You can’t escape taxes by changing carriers. Taxes vary by location but they are the same for all providers. Taxes apply to both local and long distance companies operating within a state. Tax dollars go to the local governing body. To obtain information about state and local taxes listed on your phone bill, contact your local and state tax offices. These offices should be listed in the government section of your phone book.

800 Number
Toll free numbers charge the business or individual receiving the call, not the caller. The toll free subscriber instead of the person making the call pays the charge for the call

Learn more: Toll Free Long Distance

Billing Increments
How a carrier will round the call time for billing.

60 second increments
Calls rounded to the nearest minute. A 1 minute 25 second call is rounded to 2 minutes.

6 second increments
A 1 minute 25 second call is rounded to 1 minute 30 seconds.

FCC (Federal Communications Commission)
The FCC is an independent United States government agency, directly responsible to Congress. The FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. The FCC’s jurisdiction covers the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. possessions. Regulates interstate communications such as licenses, rates, tariffs, standards and limitations.

Dial Around Service
Typically used with your primary telephone. Provides an access code to dial around your PIC. This can be a 10-10XXX, a toll free access number, or a calling card.

Federal Tax (Federal Excise Tax)
Appears on both your local and long distance phone bills. Charged as a percentage of your total bill regardless of your telephone carrier. It is 3% of long distance calls and 2.7% of local calls.

Federal Subscriber Line Charge (Subscriber Line Charge, SLC)
Similar to the PICC. Regulated and capped by the FCC. It is not a charge by the government, it is not a tax. The number of calls you place or receive does not affect it. The money is paid to local telephone companies and will be charged to your local phone bill. The SLC fee pays local phone companies some of the costs of telephone lines connected to your home or business. The current charge for primary residence lines and single-line business customers increased to $5.00 on July 1, 2001. The second and additional lines for residential service are considered non-primary lines and are subject to a higher line charge cap, even if the bill is in a second name at the same address. The Subscriber Line Charge for non-primary lines is capped at $7.00 per month thru June 30, 2005. For multi-line businesses the maximum charge is the telephone company’s average cost of providing a line in that state, or $9.20 per line per month, whichever is lower.

Save Money: Long Distance Customer Tips

Interexchange Carrier
Another name for long distance carrier. Provides long distance between LEC (Local Exchange Carrier) and LATA. Examples include AT&T, MCI WorldCom, and Sprint.

Learn More: Long Distance FAQs

Interstate Rate
Rate for state-to-state calls.

Intrastate Rate
Rate for calls made within the state.

LATA (Local Access Transport Area)
Division of telephone service into geographic regions. Used by regional phone service provider to determine which areas are considered “long distance” or “local.” This is not represented by area codes or exchange prefixes. Calls outside your LATA ( interlata) are long distance. Calls inside your LATA (intralata) may or may not be toll free, depending on the local phone company. Switching long distance providers switches the calls made outside your LATA. To encourage competition and give consumers more choices, the FCC has ruled that intralata calls can be switched to the provider of your choice. You will be charged the in-state rate for intralata local calls.

LEC (Local Exchange Carrier)
Local or regional company that owns and operates lines to consumer locations.

Local Service
Calls within your local calling area.

Long Distance Toll Service
Calls outside your local calling area. “1” + area code + 7-digit number.

Minimum Billing Increment
Minimum amount of time you will be billed for a call.

Minimum Usage Requirements
Some plans specify a dollar minimum for your total bill. If you don’t reach this minimum, you will be charged a set minimum usage fee. Some programs will charge you the difference as a fee. Monthly Fee (Monthly Service Fee, Monthly Access Fee)- Some companies charge a fixed monthly fee paid to your carrier regardless of your usage. This fee is paid in addition to the cost of your calls.

Municipal Charge
Charged by your local municipality to offset the costs of community services such as 911.

Number Portability Service Charge (Local Number Portability, LNP)
FCC approved fee that pays local telephone companies for the expenses of allowing a consumer or business to retain their existing telephone number when switching long distance carriers. This is not a tax and the fee goes to the local telephone company. It is up to the local companies to pass the cost thru to the consumer. Most companies do.

Off Peak Rate
The non-peak calling period, typically between 7 pm and 7 am.

Peak Rate
Prime calling hours, typically between 7 am and 7 pm.

PIC Switching Fee 
Charged by the local provider when you change long distance carriers. The fee is normally $5-$10 and charged on your local phone bill. After your service is switched, some carriers will reimburse the switching fee. To credit the fee, the carrier will probably request a copy of the phone bill with the switching fee.

Save Money: Long Distance Consumer Tips

PIC (Primary Interexchange Carrier)
The primary long distance carrier through which all interstate long distance calls are made (1+ dialing).

PIC Freeze
Consumer arranges with local carrier to prevent changing the user’s PIC without permission (“slamming”).

PICC (Presubscribed Interexchange Carrier Charge, National Access Fee or Carrier Line Charge)
Long distance companies pay local phone companies a flat fee for access to their local phone network. The FCC regulates the price, but this is not a tax and the commission does not require long distance companies to pass these charges to consumers. Each long distance company pays the same flat rate per line and it is up to the company how to distribute this charge. Pay attention the PICC because each company charges differently. Some companies do not charge for the PICC. The PICC charge appears on your long distance bill.

RBOC (Regional Bell Operating Company)
One of the original seven local telephone companies (Baby Bells) created as part of the breakup of AT&T. Ameritech, Bell Atlantic, Bell South, NYNEX, Pacific Telesis Group, Southwestern Bell and US West.

Regional Toll Service (Local Long distance, Local Toll) 
This calling area includes calls to places outside your local calling area but not as far away as those covered by long distance toll service. Usually itemized on your bill and billed at a per minute rate.

Slamming
Unauthorized switching of your phone service from one your long distance carrier to another without your consent. This practice may involve misleading marketing or outright fraud. Prohibited by Federal law and the FCC. The FCC requires a long distance company to obtain your authorization before changing your long distance provider.

USF (Universal Service Fund, Universal Service Charge)
A national policy to promote telephone service to all households. Telephone service is a vital link to emergency services, government agencies and surrounding communities and the USF is a subsidy to make phone service available for all Americans. This includes consumers with low incomes, schools and libraries and rural health care providers. All carriers are charged the same USF%. However, pay attention to this fee because companies have flexibility in passing this fee to customers. The charge ranges from no charge at all, a flat fee, % of interstate and international usage or % of entire bill. The company keeps the difference between the fees they receive and the charge they pay.

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