Press Releases of William Kennard.
Re: Criticism of AT&T and MCI for Plans to Inform Their Customers About Universal Service Charges.
Dates: May 28, 1998, and June 2, 1998.
Source: FCC.

May 28, 1998

Statement of FCC Chairman William Kennard

AT&T's announcement is premature, unwarranted and inconsistent with its own public proposals to the FCC.  This announcement suggests that AT&T will raise rates to pay for universal service.  But consumers are enjoying the lowest long distance rates in history.  The FCC will continue to drive long distance prices down and ensure that consumers get the full story: no hidden charges on their bills and full disclosure of the significant cost reductions they receive."

June 2, 1998


In the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Congress expanded universal service to include advanced telecommunications services to all public and private schools grades K-12 and public libraries. Congress wisely recognized the importance of making communications technology available for all citizens - rich or poor - as a way to prepare the next generation to compete in a global information age economy.

But companies that say they will pass on new charges should also commit to pass on reductions and they should disclose both. They should not take advantage of consumers by overbilling their customers and then blaming it on the government. That is why we must make sure that all consumers receive the benefits of the FCC's procompetitive policies, including access charge reductions.

Not only must consumers be fully informed about what they are paying for on their monthly phone bills, consumers should also benefit from the savings the telephone companies are realizing. No one at the FCC supports a "hidden tax" on phone bills; but neither can we allow a "hidden rate increase." We are working to make sure that consumers get the full truth so that they can make informed decisions.