The Fogging Of
America - Pt 2
By Jack Koenig
In part one of "The Fogging of America, we disclosed that AT&T's "7¢ Anytime rate will actually cost the casual user 26¢ a minute while MCI's "5¢ Any Dayrate is only good for nights and weekends. At all other times you'll be paying over 25¢ a minute.
We discussed how the break-up of "Ma Bell allowed the "Baby Bells to charge long distance carriers a fee for carrying the local portion of long distance calls. We described how the 1996 Telecommunications Act replaced this per minute fee with three new components: 1) a lower per minute charge to the long distance carrier, 2) a flat fee charged to the long distance carrier for connecting each customer to the local lines, and 3) a "Subscriber Line Charge billed directly to every customer by the "Baby Bells.
We showed how the sum of the first two components was less than the original per minute amount charged to the long distance carriers, but after adding the third leg, the "Subscriber Line Charge, the consumer wound-up paying more for the same service.
We disclosed how the long distance carriers, in concert with the "Baby Bells, are using new terms such as "Federal Access Fee, "National Access Fee, and "Federal Line Charge to confuse the public and disguise their rate increases as "Federally Mandated Taxes, when in fact, they are neither taxes nor federally mandated.
In this segment, we'll discuss how still another fee has been added to the consumer's phone bill, the Universal Access Charge.
In 1997, the FCC implemented rules to address that portion of the 1996 Telecommunications Act mandating free or reduced telecommunications services for schools, libraries, rural health care providers, high cost rural areas, and the less fortunate. These FCC rules are referred to as the "Universal Service Order and direct interstate long distance carriers to fund this quest by paying a Universal Access Fee (read TAX) based on the total of their long distance revenues.
When the Universal Access Fee was imposed in 1997, the initial rate was just below 4% with provisions for quarterly adjustments based on projected demand. Today, after adding their "handling charges to this fee, the long distance carriers pass it on to the consumer either as a flat rate or as a percent of the users total long distance charges. Depending on the carrier, this fee runs the gamut from 0% - 6.5%, and because of the variance and the arbitrary method in which it is passed onto the consumer, it should always be included in calculating exactly how much you pay per minute for your long distance service.
As you can see from parts one and two of this report , both the local and long distance carriers have successfully used their advertising dollars to convince the public it is the Federal government, not the carriers, who is responsible for raising your phone bills. With the exception of the "Universal Access Fee, nothing could be further from the truth. The carriers, of course, are relying on your lack of time and resources to know otherwise.
So how can you, the average citizen, cut through this haze without wasting your precious time, time that should be used for other things such as
raising your children and maintaining your home and your lifestyle?
Well, the data is available from a Management Consulting firm who has provided much of the information for this report. And no, this hasn't been a sneaky way to sell their services, but rather an opportunity to let you review, free of any charge, the same materials for which they had been previously charging corporate clients up to $500/quarter.
Their website, Senitel Communications (, has taken the most popular and/or heavily advertised programs and "re-constituted their advertised rates to include hidden charges. By visiting, you will be able to see at a glance the true rates charged under the various plans. You can also connect to any carrier's website for further information.
The next segment of "The Fogging will provide tips and tricks for lowering your phone bill regardless if you do or do not use long distance.
This month's Impactnet is sponsored by Senitel Communications. For 100% fiber optic long distance at 5.9 cents/minute from a TOP TIER carrier, visit This IS NOT a teaser rate and is good 24 hours/day, seven days/week with no minimums, no signup charges, or other hidden costs.
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