More than likely, the long distance portion of your January 1998 phone bill will show some new charges. But if you ask where this new money is going, all you're likely to get is a bunch of finger pointing.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 provided for the substitution of per-minute access charges with per-line access charges, based on the premise that the per-minute fees were too high and created economic distortion.
A year or so ago, long distance companies were sponsoring advertising campaigns claiming local phone companies were overcharging long distance companies for access. It would be charitable to describe these statements as disingenuous, since these "overcharges" were decreed by the FCC. The long distance companies were also promising that any reduction in access fees would be passed through in full to customers.
AT&T is imposing a monthly fee of $1.50 for additional lines, even though its rate has only increased by $0.97. MCI is charging $1.07 per line for every line with charges to MCI, even if they are not presubscribed. Although these companies are passing through charges in excess of the amount of the increase, they have not announced across-the-board rate decreases for their customers. Thus, they have kept the decreased per-minute rates for themselves, while refusing to absorb these higher per-line charges that were imposed on them by FCC decree.
Eli Mantel aka the Cagey Consumer
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