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MCI Seeks Eased Billing Arrangement

February 25, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ MCI Communications Corp. asked federal regulators Tuesday to make it easier for long-distance companies to bill customers for new federal fees.

The fees, imposed on long-distance companies, go to local phone companies for connecting long-distance calls. They are used to subsidize local phone service in rural and other high-cost areas. Long-distance companies typically pass along the fees to their customers.

MCI asked the Federal Communications Commission to require local phone companies, among other things, to give long-distance companies information about the number and type of lines long-distance customers use.

Long-distance companies need the information, which is kept by local phone companies, to accurately bill customers for the fees, which took effect Jan. 1. Until the information is provided, MCI recommended that local phone companies be responsible for collecting the fees.

After being accused of overbilling small business customers for the fees, MCI also said that beginning in April it will change how it collects the fees from small businesses.

Instead of assessing the fees based on a percentage of a customer’s total long-distance bill, MCI will use a per-line charge of $2.75 a month for small businesses with either a single phone line or multiple lines, said spokeswoman Jamie DePeau.

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