IJMC - Telephone Charges for Internet Access
They're at it again. The telco's and the FCC are once more trying to add
or allow per minute charges related to Internet/modem usage. They've been
doing this for years, but each year looks more likely to pass and this
year the entire document along with the ability to respond through email
are available on the FCC's web site. I'd recommend everyone check this
out and those with some linguistic ability write the FCC against this
proposal. My thanks to Jim Scarborough for packaging this in an
appropriate form for the IJMC. -dave
P.S. I apologize to our international subscribers, this isn't your fight,
but it could affect my access so I'm promoting it here. More junk tomorrow!
Here's an important note that needs to go out right away. I've
revised it from the last time with much more substantial information. I
think I'll be writing to the FCC.
Briefly, it looks like the FCC is interested in allowing standard
billing by the minute for local phone calls and/or increasing the base
monthly phone bill for all but the first phone line in a residence. The
FCC is also taking comments. To make a knowledgable comment, please read
You can read more about exactly what the FCC is up to at:
which includes further information (and more precise wording) about
pending FCC actions. If you want to read the text, surf to
and start reading at about paragraph 52 or 53 (they're numbered).
MORE THOROUGH SUMMARY
Basically, the notice of inquiry (NOI) several things (I, II, etc. are
from the document, A, B, C... are my assessments/comments):
I. The present rate structure for phone line billing does not match
the costs incurred to provide the services. That is, it costs the
telephone company (telco) a certain amount of money to maintain your
line whether you use it or not, and it costs the telco more if you
use it, the cost proportional to how much you use it.
A. Usually, a telco customer pays a flat rate for phone service, and
uses as much service as they like.
B. Just as with internet, the phone company has limited bandwidth.
When you pick up the phone, you get a dial tone from one of
several telephone interfaces, but there are more phone lines than
interfaces in a bank of interfaces, hence the additional cost for
the phone company as usage goes up. (They have to have fewer
lines per interface (more interfaces) to meet demand.)
C. There is a basic tennant in the document which seems to state
that the phone rates should be closely coupled with costs to
provide services (seems reasonable).
D. An ideal (per the aforementioned tennant) rate structure would be
to charge a per-month rate for the phone line proportional to the
telco's cost to maintain that line, and charge an additional
usage-based rate as a sort of rental of the interfaces mentioned
E. I surmise that charging by the minute would discourage network
II. The FCC is contemplating changing the SLC (subscriber line charge?)
rate cap ($3.50, shows up on my phone bill as "FCC charge for network
access.") upward for some residential and business customers.
From paragraph 65:
...we propose to increase the cap on the SLC for the second
and additional lines for residential customers and for all
lines for multi-line business customers to the per-line
loop costs assigned to the interstate jurisdiction. This
would allow incumbent LECs to recover interstate common line
costs for multi-line business customers and for residential
connections beyond the primary residential connection in a
manner consistent with the way costs are incurred.
A. The SLC was instituted to help the local telco pay for basic
wire maintenance every month, particularly because many large
businesses set up PBX's (private branch exchanges, essentially
their own telephone switches) which connected directly to long-
distance carriers, and thereby bypassed the local telco when
making long-distance calls (saving the business money and costing
the local telco). (Info from a letter I received from the FCC
when I called to ask about the SLC.)
B. The SLC was originally charged to businesses, and later it was
expanded to include residential lines.
C. The purpose of the SLC has strayed from the original, and its
present purpose seems to be to soak the individual user for
being allowed to use a long distance carrier. Removing the cap
for a second residential line will certainly curb phone use.
III. The FCC is contemplating the way the SLC is billed to ISDN customers.
MAKE YOUR COMMENT COUNT
Note that you are encouraged to comment to the FCC, but they require a few
pieces of information in order for the comment to count (from
You may also file informal comments electronically via e-mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org for the Access Reform NPRM (CC Docket No. 96-262)
and email@example.com for the Internet Access & Information Service
Provider NOI (CC Docket No. 96-263).
Only one copy of electronically-filed comments must be submitted.
You must put the docket number of the proceeding in the subject
line, and you also must note in the subject line if an electronic
submission is an exact copy of formal comments. You also must
include your full name and Postal Service mailing address in your
The deadline for comments is February 21, 1997.
THE PRECEEDING E-MAIL
Subject: FCC Imposed Charges
I am writing you this to inform you of a very important matter currently
under review by the FCC. Your local telephone company has filed a proposal
with the FCC to impose per minute charges for your internet service.
They contend that your usage has or will hinder the operation of the
It is my belief that internet usage will diminish if users were required
to pay additional per minute charges. The FCC has created an email box for
your comments, responses must be received by February 13, 1997. Send
your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them what you think.
Please forward this email to all your friends on the internet so all our
voices may be heard.
Thanks for your time,
Hollernet: Jim Scarborough phonenet: +1 205.864.3426
SnailNet: Silicon Graphics internet: email@example.com
1500 Perimeter Parkway #117 hamnet: KE4ROH
Huntsville, AL 35806 bayonet: Ouch!
And now, a random saying: