Long Distance Terms and Definitions

Interstate rate – the rate for outbound and inbound state to state calls.

Intrastate rate – the rate for outbound and inbound calls within your state.

Monthly fees – some programs will have monthly fees, some will have monthly fees for toll free (800/888/877) service, some will have no fees.

Billing Increments – how a carrier bills the calls (60 seconds means the calls are rounded to the nearest minute, i.e. a call for 1 minute, 2 seconds will be billed for 2 minutes, whereas the same call on a 6 second-billed program would be billed for 1 minute, 6 seconds).

Minimum billing increment – the minimum time that you will billed for completed call (get an answering machine, that will be the time charged)

Minimum usage requirement – the amount that your long distance bill must be in order to sign up for the program (for most of these programs, if you do not bill the minimum, you will be charged the difference)

Account codes – special dialing codes that allow companies to track telephone expenses by project and/or user. Each user enters their own tracking code for each call and at the month a report is generated showing cost by user.

Subscriber Line Charge (SLC) – Instituted after the break-up of AT&T in 1984 to cover the costs of the local phone network. Although the FCC caps the price, it is not a tax, and it does not end up in government coffers.

Presubscribed Interexchange Carrier Charge (PICC) – Long distance companies pay local phone companies for access to their local phone network to begin and end a long distance call. Again, the FCC regulates the price, but it is not a tax, and the Commission does not require that long distance companies pass these charges on to consumers. See list of PICC codes.

Universal Service Fund (USF) – Since telephone service provides a vital link to emergency services, to government services, and to surrounding communities, it has been national policy to promote telephone service to all households since the inception of telephone service in the 1930s. The USF pays for subsidies to make phone service affordable and available to all Americans, including:

  • consumers with low incomes;
  • consumers who live in areas where the costs of providing telephone service is high;
  • schools and libraries; and,
  • rural health care providers.