Local Telephone Service
Things to consider when choosing a Local Telephone Service Provider...
Compare apples to apples. Local telephone service prices and packaging
can be confusing. Some companies offer all-inclusive packages, while others offer basic
telephone service with options available a la carte. In addition, make sure you understand
the price being quoted. For example, does the rate quoted include taxes and fees? The Federal
Subscriber Line Charge and 911 fees alone can add as much as $10.00 to your monthly bill.
Local taxes can range from as low as 4% to as high as 25%.
Are all local telephone service providers the same?
No. Some local telephone competitors, like the cable TV companies,
mostly use their own networks to serve customers. Others rely on certain components
of the traditional telephone company, such as the line to your home or business.
Still others rely entirely on the traditional telephone company’s network to provide
service. If it is important to you to understand how a local telephone company
provides service, you should ask.
How much are connection charges? What is included?
Connection charges vary depending on the service ordered and the work
to be performed. If, for example, your residence requires inside wiring, there may be
charges associated with set up fees and installation in addition to the “time and materials”
required to perform such work.
Is a deposit or advance payment required? If so, how much?
The Virginia State Corporation Commission has allowed the
use of deposits by utilities as a normal business protection against uncollectible
accounts. Each utility may require deposits from customers as a matter of its operational
business practices and procedures. However, when they do so, as in the case of a residential
customer, the Commission has established specific rules governing deposits. These rules
provide that the customer will be allowed to pay it in at least three consecutive equal
monthly installments whenever the total amount of the required deposit exceeds $40.00.
Deposits may be refunded at anytime, but should be held for no longer than one year
if satisfactory credit is established. Deposits held longer than 90 days will begin
to accumulate interest from the date the deposit is made until it is refunded.
On the other hand, advance payments have become an optional business decision for each provider.
Some companies have chosen to require advance payment to defray the initial connection charges
on the first bill.
When can I expect service to be installed? What is the typical wait interval
for my area? What sort of time interval is offered; anytime on a given day, by the ½ day, etc.?
Schedules vary by service provider. For example, some companies schedule
installation work by the ½ day. The best rule is to ask. You may save yourself some time.
What is the local calling area?
Your local calling area generally includes numbers you can dial on a
seven-digit basis without paying a toll charge. Most companies serving a specific
geographic region offer the same local calling area. However, there can be per minute
usage charges associated with some seven-digit calls. These are known as extended area
calls. To be sure about whether a call to a specific area is local you should contact
your telephone service provider.
When changing local telephone service providers, will I be allowed
to retain my telephone number?
Generally, the answer is yes, provided there are no technical limitations
and you do not move outside your local calling area.
Does the company offer Lifeline and Link Up or other discounted services?
Many companies participate in state and federal Lifeline and Link-up programs.
These programs were designed to help make telephone service more affordable to more consumers.
In Virginia, the plan is known as the Virginia Universal Service Plan and is made available
to those receiving Medicaid and Food Stamps. In addition, some companies offer exemptions
for directory assistance charges for the visually impaired.
Can I block 700 & 900 numbers?
Companies are required to provide free blocking to these pay-per-call type
destinations, if you request it.
Can my local telephone service be disconnected for non-payment
of long distance charges including 700 & 900 numbers?
No. Telephone service may be disconnected only for non-payment of regulated local services.
Non-payment of unregulated services (long distance, voice mail, etc.) will not result in
disconnection. There is a description of regulated and unregulated charges on your local bill.
Companies may, of course, pursue all other legal means available to them for the collection
of any debt.
If I switch local telephone service providers, will my modem speed be affected?
It depends. The answer to your specific case will depend upon how your line
is configured. If dial-up modem speed is important to you, ask your provider for more details.
Will my listing in the directory change if I switch local service providers?
No, not unless you request a change. However, you should verify your listing
information with your provider when placing your order for service.
How will I know if my Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) access number is
located in my local or extended calling area and not a long distance call?
Ask your local telephone service provider.