Federal Universal Service Fund (USF) Explained

This surcharge keeps local phone service affordable for all Americans by providing discounts on services to schools, libraries, as well as those living in rural and high-cost areas and income eligible families.

What is the (Federal) Universal Service Fund charge that appears on my bill?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which regulates all telecommunications companies, set the Universal Service Fund up in 1997. All long distance, local telephone companies, cellular companies, paging companies and pay phone providers that provide service between states contribute a percentage of the total amount they bill to the fund. The amount CenturyLink Long Distance is required to contribute to the Fund continues to increase, and we recover our cost in the form of this charge, as allowed by the FCC.

What is the money used for?

The money is used to help schools, libraries, rural health care providers and telephone companies that operate in high cost areas by giving them discounts on telecommunications services. The fund supports programs that provide discounted essential service and free service installations to income eligible families. Part of the money also helps keep your local telephone service reasonably priced. It's less costly for telephone companies to provide service in cities than it is in more remote rural areas that have small populations. The Universal Service Fund is one source that helps make it possible for telephone companies to service remote areas without having to raise everyone's rates.

Is the charge the same each month?

The amount could vary because the percentage charged is based on the total dollar amount of your long distance (1+ Direct Dial state-to-state), recurring fees, International, Calling Cards and Toll Free state-to-state, Directory Assistance (state-to-state and in-state) and Operator Services on your long distance bill. The FCC sets the percentage amount and can change the amount once a quarter.

Who determines the amount?

The FCC sets the amount that each long distance company has to contribute to the Universal Service Fund, and the company passes associated fees along to customers to recover their cost. The money collected from our CenturyLink long distance customers for USF is used to recover the amount we're required to pay to the Federal Universal Service Fund.

What about long distance calls incorrectly charged to my account? Will the company credit my account for that percentage of the Federal Universal Service Fund fee when it issues credit for the long distance call?

Yes. The system will automatically calculate a refund for the USF fee just as it does with other fees and taxes associated with that call.