DSL providers to hike prices through new fees

— 10:31 AM on April 6, 2004

News.com has an interesting report on phone companies' plans to begin assessing new surcharges as a means of raising prices—without changing the advertised price of the service. Both BellSouth and SBC plan to add a Universal Service Fund fee to their customers' bills, despite the fact that USF regulations have not changed:

Mike Paxton, an analyst at In-Stat/MDR, said the new fees are price hikes in regulatory clothing.

"In this case, it sounds like they're trying to blame the (price) increase on taxes and regulatory fees they were already paying," Paxton said. "The bottom line: No new regulations were put in place; they were paying (USF) and taxes before; they are still paying for it now, but the consumer is paying an extra several dollars per month."

Of course, charging extra fees to extract more cash from customers is a time-honored tradition in the world of telecom, but it's also rather unseemly. Let's hope the cable companies don't get any ideas.
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