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Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
Internet: http://www.fcc.gov
TTY: 202/418-2555

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

June 29, 1999
Emily Hoffnar 202/418-0253

Access Charges Cut
Lower Long-Distance Rates Should Follow

Beginning July 1, 1999, long-distance companies will see overall reductions in access charge payments and contributions to universal service programs of over half a billion dollars nnually. Although the flat per-line charges that long-distance companies pay will increase, per-minute charges paid by long-distance companies will decrease significantly. These price changes are designed to improve the price structure for long-distance calling in the U.S. and are likely to lower prices, further stimulate long-distance calling, and boost the economy in general.

"Long-distance companies will have available a net of half a billion dollars which can be - and should be - used to further lower long-distance rates for American consumers. Consumers should be the ultimate beneficiaries of these reductions," said Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman William E. Kennard.

"If consumers see higher flat fees without reduced per-minute rates, they may want to shop around for another long-distance company, or even consider not having a presubscribed long-distance company at all." Kennard said.

The FCC will release a Consumer Fact Sheet - "Tips on Lowering Your Long-Distance Telephone Bill" - that will explain how dropping their presubscribed long-distance company can reduce long-distance bills for some consumers.

Access charges are what a long-distance company pays local phone companies to "access" the local phone companies' networks to originate and complete long-distance calls. Universal service contributions keep phone service affordable in rural and other high-cost areas, and provide discounts for telecommunications services, including internet access, for schools, libraries, and rural health facilities.

Local phone companies filed tariffs with the FCC on Wednesday, June 16, 1999, to cut by more than $800 million, the access charges the collect primarily from long-distance carriers for connecting to the local companies' networks. These new rates are scheduled to take effect on July 1, and are subject to FCC review.

A list of companies, and the amount of access charge reductions (based on 1998 demand figures), follows:

Company Access Charge Reduction
Ameritech $ 87,700,000
Bell Atlantic $ 234,600,000
BellSouth $ 150,000,000
Pacific Telesis $ 55,600,000
Southwestern $ 60,800,000
U S West $ 109,100,000
GTE $ 44,600,000
Aliant $ 1,800,000
Frontier $ 5,900,000
SNET $ 16,100,000
Sprint LTCs $ 44,500,000
Citizens $ 9,200,000
Cincinnati Bell $ 4,900,000
Total $ 824,800,000


Tips for Lowering Your Long Distance Telephone Bill

If you believe your long distance company is charging you too much - in flat fees, monthly minimums, and per-minute charges, there are several options that may lower your bill.

Option 1: Call your long distance telephone company.

Option 2: Switch long distance companies.

Option 3: Consider dropping your long distance company.

- FCC -

COMMON CARRIER BUREAU CONTACT: Richard Lerner, 202/418-1520