Federal Universal Service Fund (USF)

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

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

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which regulates all telecommunications companies, set up the Universal Service Fund in 1997. All long distance companies, 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. As a telecommunications company, CenturyLink contributes to this fund, 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 organizations like schools, libraries, and rural health care providers 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. 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. It's more costly for telephone companies to provide service in remote or rural areas than it is in densely populated cities. 

Is the charge the same each month?

The amount could vary because the charge is a percentage of the total dollar amount of your phone-related services.

Who determines the amount?

The FCC sets the percentage amount and can change the amount once a quarter.

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