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WASHINGTON, July 2 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Public Communications Council, Inc. (APCC) called for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to set a uniform national rate for the use of payphones as the best way to provide certainty and protection for consumers while fulfilling the Congressional mandate that an adequate supply of payphones be available for use by the public.

Congress, in Section 276 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, has ordered that payphone service no longer be subsidized -- that it be provided on a fully competitive basis. Only revenues generated from payphone users will be available to support the service.

"A national uniform rate will ensure consumer certainty. Consumers will know in advance what fee they can expect for the use of a payphone, no matter where they are in the country," said Vincent R. Sandusky, president of APCC.

APCC research shows that a rate of 40 cents for every call will adequately distribute costs so that no one category of phone call will be responsible for sustaining payphone service. In addition to coin calls, payphones are also used for a variety of non-coin calls, including operator-assisted calls and toll-free numbers. Often, payphone providers receive little or no compensation for these types of calls, yet shoulder all the expenses of maintaining the phones.

Other commenters to the FCC have indicated that the fee would have to exceed one dollar if assessed only on non-coin calls. APCC supports a 40 cent across-the-board fee for all calls made from a payphone. Consumers would not be responsible for the fee on non-coin calls, rather the toll carrier would pay it directly to the payphone provider.

To further ensure consumer protection, APCC, more than a year ago, made a proposal to the FCC to limit rates charged for interstate long distance calls made from hotel phones and payphones. The FCC recently issued a similar proposal on such long distance charges. APCC will be supporting the disclosure and/or rate ceiling concepts advocated in that proposed rule.

"Combining a modest uniform national fee for use of a payphone with long distance disclosure and/or rate ceilings will provide consumers with virtual certainty that they will be charged a reasonable rate and will know in advance what they will be billed for each call," Sandusky said.

To offset concern that any increase in payphone rates may impact disadvantaged communities, APCC is advocating states be given the authority to designate and fund "public interest" phones at locations, such as schools, playgrounds and other community areas, where there is a genuine need to serve the community.

"Payphones perform an important service, especially in communities and neighborhoods where not everyone has a telephone in their home. Our objective is that there be payphones for the public's use," Sandusky said.

APCC is the national trade association which represents more than 1,500 owners, operators, suppliers and manufacturers of public communications equipment and services.
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/CONTACT: Vincent Sandusky of the American Public Communications Council, 703-385-5300/

CO: American Public Communications Council, Inc.; Federal

Communications Commission ST: District of Columbia IN: TLS SU:

KS-DC -- DCTU017 -- 5010 07/02/96 10:50 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 2, 1996

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