December 10, 2013
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Many telephone users are often surprised when their monthly phone bill arrives. What was supposed to be a plan that was free of service charges, has $5.00 in odd charges. That $4.95 a month plan actually ends up charging you $7.35 in additional fees that don't seem to make any sense. This site attempts to uncover those charges and report the true monthly cost of a long distance calling plan. The rates comparison tables report each plan's monthly charges. The way these charges are calculated and applied to your bill varies wildly by the calling plan service provider. This makes it impossible to give one simple explanation of these charges. This site cannot guarantee what a calling plan service provider will charge you in fees and recommend that you contact the service provider directly for an explanation of its fees. You can also get information about other types of fees that may show up on your phone bill by visiting our "How To Read Your Phone Bill" page. That said, what follows is a general explanation of the fees and charges that go into the calculation of a plan's monthly charges and how these charges can affect your phone bill.
Federal Access Charge (AKA: Federal Subscriber Line Charge):
Monthly Service Fee (AKA: Monthly Fee):
Monthly Minimum Usage Charge:
Monthly Usage charges are often confused with Monthly Service Fees. Many service providers will offer a plan that has either a promotional gimmick or twist related to a monthly charge. For example, a plan may have a $4.95 monthly fee that gives you 60 minutes of free long distance calls a month. What this really means is that you are paying for 60 minutes of phone use at 8.25 cents a minute whether you use that much time or not. After using your 60 "FREE" minutes, you pay the normal per minute rate for that calling plan.
PICC (Aka: National Access Fee, Presubscribed Inter-exchange Carrier Charge, Presubscribed Line Charge, Regulatory Related Charge, or Carrier Line Charge):
Pronounced "pixie." This charge started on January 1, 1998 as part of the FCC overhaul of telephone fees. Long distance companies pay a flat fee to the local telephone company when you pre-subscribe your telephone line to their long distance service. (Sometimes referred to "Dial 1" or "Plus 1" service) The charge is designed to compensate the local telephone companies for the costs associated with providing "local loop" service. If a consumer or business has not selected a long distance company for its telephone lines, the local telephone company may bill for the PICC. Although every long distance company is charged the same flat rate per line, long distance companies are allowed to recharge you for this in any way they see fit, and each company uses a different method to charge this carrier specific fee. It is normally not presented to you in such a way that you would think it is a competitive pricing issue. But it is! Some companies do not charge this fee at all, and some charge a carrier specific flat fee. We offer full details of the amazing differences in this rate on the Fees Comparison page. This is NOT a tax. Please note that on July 1, 2000 the FCC ruled that long distance companies no longer will have to pay this fee to local companies for residential lines, or single line businesses. The charge continues for multiple line businesses. Many long distance companies are still charging you for this, even though they aren't paying it anymore!
USF (Aka: Universal Service Fund Charge or Universal Service Charge):
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