Frequently Asked Questions

Cutting the Cord: What You Should Know About Switching Your Service to Wireless

What is the End User Access Common Line?

What is the Federal Universal Service Charge?

Where do the Federal End User Access and FUSC go?

I’ve heard about a repeal of the Federal Excise Tax. What does this apply to and how can I get a refund of the taxes I’ve paid?

What does the E911 surcharge cover?

Are there programs available to help make telephone service more affordable for low-income customers? How is eligibility determined, and where can I apply?

What is the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Charge?

How do I sign up for the national Do-Not-Call list?

What is a preferred carrier freeze?

If I want to dispute a charge that appears on my bill – and don’t pay the charge – will my local service be disrupted?


Q: Cutting the Cord: What You Should Know About Switching Your Service to Wireless

A.  As a community based telecom provider, Ballard Telephone Cooperative wants our customers to know exactly what it means to “go wireless” – to terminate your traditional wireline phone and switch to wireless as your sole connection. If you decide to port your telephone number to a wireless carrier, we want to give you an idea of some of the service differences between traditional wireline phones and what you can expect from a wireless carrier:

  • If you port your wireline (traditional) phone number to a wireless carrier, you will be disconnecting your wireline phone and terminating your traditional local service.
  • You may no longer enjoy unlimited local calling; in many cases, you will need to be aware of the number of minutes that are included in your wireless plan, and keep in mind that in many cases (especially if you are calling someone using a different wireless carrier), both the calls you make and those you receive will count against your total minutes; and, you will be responsible to pay for any overages.
  • When you switch your service to a wireless carrier, you may be required to purchase a new phone and sign an “extended” service agreement; most wireless plans require up to a 24-month service contract, and significant penalties may apply if you decide to terminate the agreement before its expiration.
  • You will have to arrange with your wireless provider for a directory listing and directory assistance services.
  • In an emergency, E-911 service can pinpoint your traditional home phone, in many cases, not your cell phone.
  • You will no longer have access to all the other telecom services of Ballard Telephone such as DSL or Ballard TV.
  • You will be unable to reach someone at your home who does not have their cell phone on or with them.
  • You will have to keep your wireless phone charged at all times; if the power goes out and your phone is not charged, or the battery wears down, you will have to wait until power is restored before you can charge your phone.
  • In general, a phone number can only be assigned to a single wireless phone. With a traditional wireline phone, you can have many phones (or extensions) in your house that hook up to the same number. Typically, wireless phones can’t share numbers.
  • If your home is in an area that does not enjoy clear wireless service reception, your calls might be patchy, unclear, or have a tendency to drop. Be aware of your surroundings and the type of reception that your wireless phone gets at home; as this is the type of service quality you’ll have for all your calls.

With all the services and features – not to mention, reliability – you stand to lose; we raise the question, why would you want to disconnect your wireline phone?

Please feel free to us at Ballard Telephone at (270) 665-5186 if you have any additional questions.

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Q. What is the End User Access Common Line?

A. The Federal Communications Commission authorizes local telephone companies to recover a portion of the costs of the facilities we use to connect your home or business for services through a monthly assessment on all residential and business customers. The federal ‘end user access charge’ assessment is part of the FCC’s effort to support competition in the telecom market. The federal end user access charge is a flat monthly charge assessed directly on your bill. The federal end user access charge for residential and single-line business customers are capped at $6.50 per month, and at $9.20 per line, per month for multi-line businesses. The monthly charge does not result in additional revenue for Ballard Telephone.

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Q. What is the Federal Universal Service Charge?

A. The “Federal Universal Service Charge” (FUSC), also authorized by the FCC, is not part of your local service rate. The purpose of this charge is to help to keep rates affordable for all Americans, regardless of where they live. The amount of the FUSC on your monthly bill depends on the services you order and the number of telephone lines you have. In most cases, the FUSC is applied as a percentage, which is set by the FCC and varies on a quarterly basis, of the federal End User Access you are billed each month.

The Federal Universal Service Fund assists with the costs of providing “affordable” telecom services to low-income individuals and to residents in rural, high-cost areas. In addition, the program helps schools, libraries and rural health care providers obtain leading edge services, such as high-speed Internet access. All providers of telecom contribute to the support of these universal service programs.

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Q. Where do the Federal End User Access and FUSC go?

A. Both the End User Access Charge and FUSC fees collected from customers go to the federal administrative agencies created by the FCC to oversee and manage the funds. The End User Access Charge fees are re-distributed to local telephone companies based on specific costs. These funds enable community based telecom providers serving high-cost rural areas to recover some of the costs of the facilities used to connect your home or business. The FUSC fees allow us to recover our assessments for the federal universal service programs. A portion of the funds collected from the FUSC is distributed to keep rates in high-cost rural areas at or near the national average.

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Q. I’ve heard about a repeal of the Federal Excise Tax. What does this apply to and how can I get a refund of the taxes I’ve paid?

A. Effective July 1, 2006, Ballard Telephone will no longer charge the 3% federal excise tax on the long-distance charges that appear on your bill. The tax will still be applied to other charges that pertain to local service only according to a recent ruling by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Customers will be able to apply for a refund from the IRS of the portion of the excise tax applied to long distance charges from February 28, 2003, until August 1, 2006. You will NOT receive any refunds from Ballard Telephone Cooperative; rather, you will apply for refunds directly from the IRS when you file your 2006 income tax return next year. The IRS has made information available on their website at www.irs.gov.

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Q. What does the E911 surcharge cover?

A. The E-911 charge is a state/local government charge to fund emergency-911 services, such as police, fire and rescue.

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Q. Are there programs available to help make telephone service more affordable for low-income customers? How is eligibility determined, and where can I apply?

A. Federal and state lawmakers believe that every person in America should have access to quality, affordable telecommunications service. If you participate in social programs, such as food stamps, Medicaid, the national free-lunch program, or supplemental security income, or if your household income is below a certain threshold level, you may qualify for a discount on your telephone bill. This “universal service” system includes:

  • Lifeline assistance – provides discounts for basic monthly local telephone service
  • Link-up – reduces the cost of initiating new telephone service
  • Toll Limitation Service – allows you to control your long-distance charges

Eligibility for these programs varies by federal and state guidelines. To find out whether you qualify, you need to fill out standard forms available at our office and other state and local government offices in the area. While we participate in these federal and state programs based support programs, we are not responsible for determining who qualifies, and therefore who receives assistance. Customers must meet specific, pre-determined regulations in order to obtain assistance with their local telephone service.

The Universal Service Administration lists full details and state-specific Lifeline contact information, at www.lifelinesupport.org. Or you can call toll free, 1-888-641-8722, if you have questions about the Lifeline and Link-up discounts.

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Q. What is the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Charge?

A. Local telephone companies offer Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) to help hearing or speech impaired individuals communicate via the telephone. TRS is required by Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act and to the extent possible, must be “functionally equivalent” to standard telephone services. Communications assistants (CA) relay the content of calls between users of special text telephones (TTY’s) and users of traditional telephones.

TRS recently has expanded to include Video Relay Service (VRS) that provides a video link that allows a CA to view and interpret sign language and IP relay Service that enables two-way communication between an individual using a non-voice terminal device and an individual using a standard voice telephone.

Costs for intrastate TRS (that is, TRS calls made within a state) are paid by the individual states. Generally, states recover the TRS costs through a small assessment on telephone customers in the state. The TRS charge is used to fund the relay centers and special equipment that assist hearing and speech impaired persons to communicate. Costs for interstate TRS (state-to-state TRS calls) are paid through the Interstate TRS fund, which is supported through contributions from all interstate carriers.

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Q. How do I sign up for the national Do-Not-Call list?

A. The national Do-Not-Call Registry applies to all telemarketers (with exception of certain non-profit and political organizations) and covers both interstate and intrastate telemarketing calls. Commercial telemarketers are not allowed to call you if your number is listed on the registry.

Consumers may register their residential telephone number, including wireless numbers, on the national Do-Not-Call Registry at no cost by telephone or on the Internet. To register by telephone, you should call 1-888-382-1222. For TTY, call 1-866-290-4236. You must call from the phone number you wish to register. You may also register by Internet at www.donotcall.gov. Inclusion of your telephone number on the national Do-Not-Call Registry will be effective within 31 days of registration.

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Q. What is a preferred carrier freeze?

A. To protect against slamming, Ballard Telephone offers a preferred carrier (PIC) freeze, which enables you to prevent any change being made to your selection of a “preferred” long-distance provider without your expressed consent to lift the freeze. We make PIC freezes available to customers, regardless of the company selected as the preferred long-distance carrier, and comply with various requirements on the materials we send out about PIC freezes. In addition to specific information about any charges, we also include a clear explanation and description of the specific procedures necessary for you to lift the freeze.

You must request separate PIC freezes for: (1) Intralata long-distance service, (2) Interstate long-distance service, and (3) International long-distance service. We must obtain separate authorizations for each service for which you request a freeze.

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Q. If I want to dispute a charge that appears on my bill – and don’t pay the charge – will my local service be disrupted?

A. We identify all charges on your bill that if not paid, could result in the disconnection of your local service; such services are listed as “deniable” charges. The Kentucky Public Service Commission designates the charges we must classify as “deniable,” and those charges are identified on your bill. Non-payment of other, “non-deniable” charges can result in the termination of the specific service, but will not lead to disconnection of local service. If you don’t recognize the charges, you should call the business office number listed on your bill within 30 days to ensure no interruption of the service in question.

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Ballard Telephone Cooperative offers local phone, long distance, internet, cable and other telecommunications services to
Ballard County and Western McCracken County.
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