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RCN raised my rates last month to $72/month for my phone-cable internet package, so I downgraded to the slower 768kbps service for a $37/month package.

However, my taxes, fees, and surcharges are higher this month than they were before! $15 instead of $9.

I'm trying to figure out what the correct charges for federal subscriber line charge, federal excise tax, and federal universal service fund should be but can't find out much specific information about them. I could and will call RCN to ask but would like to have an independent take on things first.

Does anybody know what the deal is with these extra charges?

Thanks.

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You really need to call. Alot of these "taxes" "fees" and "surcharges" aren't actually taxes set by states or regulatory agencies. They are basically an increase in price that the companies put on your bill. That way, for example, Sprint can say it always charges me $40 per month for my phone bill (even though my other costs such as the Universal Connectivity Charge go up).

Here are some explainations of some of the various "fees:"

http://www.serviceguide.att.com/ACS/ext/mcs.cfm

I found this article by the FCC
here
It says
"(Federal) Subscriber Line Charge – This charge covers the costs of the local phone network. This charge may appear as “FCC Charge for Network Access,” “Federal Line Cost Charge,” “Interstate Access Charge,” “Federal Access Charge,” “Interstate Single Line Charge,” “Customer Line Charge” or “FCC-Approved Customer Line Charge.” The FCC sets the maximum allowable Federal Subscriber Line Charge. This is not a government charge or tax, and it does not end up in the U.S. treasury."

Nowhere can I find what this maximum allowable charge is, though.

Grr-- what a scam! This so-called "Federal" Subscriber Line Charge is $11.79 for me-- consider that my monthly local landline would be only $20 otherwise.

the whole system is crazy

i'm a DBA at a telco and we have a monthly database change that we do just for tax purposes to calculate this stuff for billing customers. I looked in the database once and there is so much junk it's unbelievable. I guess the Spanish-American War isn't paid off yet.

Federal Excise tax is 3.0%. Everything else is fabricated by your carrier.

I used to work for Qwest and I can say for sure that the charge for local number portability is also a scam. The idea was originally to pay for the equipment and network to be able to transfer your phone number around to different central offices. This is great and all, but that has been long since paid for and the charge is still on your phone bill.

Another interesting thing I learned while there was that residential line prices (POTS) are artifically lowered while business lines are articifically high. If you think about it, it makes sense since businesses tend to have a lot more lines than residential locations.

Want another one? It is very technically concievable to run naked DSL on anyone's household lines. You do not really need to have a voice dialtone to run DSL to your house. The circuit can work just fine without that component. This is another scam.

Oh and I almost forgot one other thing about DSL. If you have ever tried to get a DSL line installed and it takes about 5 business days or more to do, realize this: It isn't a technical problem or delay in workload from the technicians. I have had them turned up in as little as two hours for emergencies. The only real delay is to give competiting DSL providers time to get their orders into the order system without Qwest having an unfair advantage competitively.

Fun stuff huh?

Okay, called RCN and they admitted double billing.

However, I'm still annoyed at these charges... let's share what I've found out:
Federal Subscriber Line Charge: Utterly bogus, just a way of increasing the charge for local phone service. I believe that the maximum allowable amount for residential lines is $6.50 (may be different according to region?) My source.

Federal Excise Tax: should be 3% of your phone bill. Imposed in 1898 to pay for the Spanish-American war. Ruled illegal by 7 courts last year. Your carrier will probably remove this item from your bill if you are willing to take the small risk of protesting it.

Federal Universal Service Fund: telecommunications companies are required to contribute a suggested 10.2% of their interstate end-user revenues to the public good. They can, and do, pass the costs down to the consumer. Here's the FCC factsheet on the USF.

If you have a long distance carrier, there are also a host of additional ways that you might be nickeled and dimed in extra "taxes" by your carrier.

Man, this has got to stop!

moxie said: [Q]Okay, called RCN and they admitted double billing.

However, I'm still annoyed at these charges... let's share what I've found out:
Federal Subscriber Line Charge: Utterly bogus, just a way of increasing the charge for local phone service. I believe that the maximum allowable amount for residential lines is $6.50 (may be different according to region?) My source.

Federal Excise Tax: should be 3% of your phone bill. Imposed in 1898 to pay for the Spanish-American war. Ruled illegal by 7 courts last year. Your carrier will probably remove this item from your bill if you are willing to take the small risk of protesting it.

Federal Universal Service Fund: telecommunications companies are required to contribute a suggested 10.2% of their interstate end-user revenues to the public good. They can, and do, pass the costs down to the consumer. Here's the FCC factsheet on the USF.

If you have a long distance carrier, there are also a host of additional ways that you might be nickeled and dimed in extra "taxes" by your carrier.

Man, this has got to stop!

That's why you switch to VOIP. They charge the Federal Excise Tax of 3% plus a flat rate for unlimited calling to US + Canada (most carriers). Some have gone down the path to the dark side and started charging a $1.50 regulatory recovery fee. All in all, total bill is <$30 per month excluding international calls. As you supply the broadband internet connection, I suggest calculating your total cost using non-promotional pricing before signing up for broadband to get VOIP (especially if your broadband is via DSL, but many have found naked DSL or how to remove all the extras to minimize the land line cost).

gatzdon said: [Q]
That's why you switch to VOIP. They charge the Federal Excise Tax of 3% plus a flat rate for unlimited calling to US + Canada (most carriers). Some have gone down the path to the dark side and started charging a $1.50 regulatory recovery fee. All in all, total bill is <$30 per month excluding international calls. As you supply the broadband internet connection, I suggest calculating your total cost using non-promotional pricing before signing up for broadband to get VOIP (especially if your broadband is via DSL, but many have found naked DSL or how to remove all the extras to minimize the land line cost).

Thanks, but I've already spent quite a lot of time looking for naked DSL here in the Boston area. To my surprise I couldn't find anything online-- I gave my number and address to Verizon and ATT and they spat them right back at me. Best I can do is go through one of Comcast's 6 month signup promotions and hope that something better comes along before it ends.

The federal subscriber line charge, known as SLC for those of us in the business, is a cost recovery mechanism for the Telcos for the federal portion of the basic telephone line. The cost of basic landline is split jurisdictionally between State ( your local regulatory commission establishes that rate) and interstate, since your telephone line is used for both type of calls. It used to be that the interstate portion of the cost was paid by long distance usage and access charges paid by the long distance companies. Over the last two decades, the FCC has shifted a large portion of that cost recovery from a usage based charge to a fixed charge ( SLC) paid by the end user.

Also see Solving the mystery of your telephone bill!

Although, it is MD specific, most of the same principles, though not the same rates, apply in other states.



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