Local Telephone Service FAQ

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%.

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.
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.

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.

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.
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.

Generally, the answer is yes, provided there are no technical limitations and you do not move outside your local calling area.

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.

Companies are required to provide free blocking to these pay-per-call type destinations, if you request it.

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.

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.

No, not unless you request a change. However, you should verify your listing information with your provider when placing your order for service.

Ask your local telephone service provider.