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Frequently Asked Questions

Telephone FAQs

Why do I only have one choice of providers for local telephone service?
Although the telephone industry was deregulated to allow for competition, some areas may only have one choice available for local service. To have customer choice, another telephone provider must make a business decision to enter into an agreement with the current provider to offer local service. There may come a time when several telephone providers may offer local service in your area, but the PUC does not mandate this decision.
What are slamming and cramming?
Slamming is the unauthorized switch of your telephone service. Cramming is an unauthorized charge on your local phone bill.
Why can't I keep my telephone number when I move?
Number portability gives customers the option of changing local telephone providers while keeping their same telephone number. Number portability does not always provide a customer the ability to keep the same telephone number if the customer has changed locations.
Is there any financial assistance available for low-income customers?
There are telephone payment assistance programs that serve low-income customers. If you qualify for federal or state aid and are having difficulty paying for your telephone service or cannot afford the service deposit, customers may apply for the Lifeline and Link-Up programs. You may contact the Low-Income Discount Administrator at 1-866-454-8387 for more information.
Can the PUC help me with my wireless or Internet services?
The PUC's jurisdiction does not extend to cover wireless or Internet services, even when the service is provided by a telephone company.
What is the difference between local toll and long distance services?
Local toll service (also called intraLATA, local long distance, or regional toll service) provides calling within a geographic area known as a Local Access and Transport Area (LATA). Local toll calls may be made within your area code or to a different area code across town, in the next county, or, in some cases, an adjoining state. You must dial "1" before making a local toll call, even if the area code is the same as yours. Today these calls can be carried by your local exchange telephone company or your long distance company. Long distance toll (interLATA) service includes all calls outside the local exchange and local toll service areas, calls that originate in one LATA and terminate in another, and international calls. (NOTE: This definition is from the FCC Website)Local toll service (also called intraLATA, local long distance, or regional toll service) provides calling within a geographic area known as a Local Access and Transport Area (LATA). Local toll calls may be made within your area code or to a different area code across town, in the next county, or, in some cases, an adjoining state. You must dial "1" before making a local toll call, even if the area code is the same as yours. Today these calls can be carried by your local exchange telephone company or your long distance company. Long distance toll (interLATA) service includes all calls outside the local exchange and local toll service areas, calls that originate in one LATA and terminate in another, and international calls. (NOTE: This definition is from the FCC Website)
What is VoIP service?
Voice over Internet Protocol, or "VoIP," is a relatively new type of telecommunications technology that converts analog voice signals from a phone or headset into digital data and transports the bits the same way that e-mail messages and attachments are sent. The major difference for consumers is whether the service uses VoIP end-to-end (never touching the public telephone network) or just uses VoIP to transport signals along some portion of the message's journey from caller to caller. Since VoIP is based on Internet technology, the service is not regulated by the PUC.
Why are the taxes and surcharges on my bill so high?
Over the years both state and Federal Governments have initiated programs associated with telephone service that require funding through taxes and surcharges on your telephone bill. Such services like 911 and the Texas Universal Service Fund contribute to your overall cost for telephone service. For more information on the specific taxes and surcharges, visit http://www.puc.state.tx.us/consumer/phone/bill.aspx.
When can the utility disconnect my service?
A telephone provider may suspend or disconnect a customer's local service after proper notice is given and not before the first day after the due date in the notice. Service may be disconnected for non-payment of a bill, deferred payment arrangement, or deposit. Service may also be disconnected for non-payment of long distance charges after toll blocking was imposed.
Why can't the utility prorate my account for a partial month of service?
Companies are not prohibited from prorating a bill for a partial month of service. Each company sets their own policy regarding whether they will prorate a final bill.