Audit of San Diego phone bills highlights challenges of deregulation
25-years after the breakup of AT&T, many consumers are paying more for long distance and wireless services than they should
Read the 87-page report here (PDF format).
An exhaustively researched audit of over 700 San Diego
long distance and wireless phone bills is challenging
long-cherished myths about deregulation.
The study, arguably the most probing public audit of
phone bills undertaken, exposes many myths about phone
The study was sponsored by Utility Consumers’ Action
Network, a San Diego-based consumer group and conducted
by auditors with Teletruth, the New Networks Institute,
and LTC Consulting.
It found that many San Diego consumers are paying far
more for long-distance service and wireless service
than they -- and regulators -- believe.
The consultants reported that “Unlike Federal regulators,
who have evaluated phone bills with number-fiddling and third-party data, we used true cost accounting to examine
every charge for more than 700 San Diego phone bills.”
Some of the surprising findings in the 87-page report include:
- Deregulation has increased phone costs for low- income
families. For some local services, these increases were as
high as 346%
- For the past 8 years, the FCC has used deceptive statistics
from questionable third-party sources to create an illusion of
lower phone prices and regulatory success.
- Since 2004, ong distance charges have increased, on average, to 55¢ a
minute. Only about 8% of land line customers pay less than
10 cents per minute for long-distance calls. The majority pay
well over 10 cents per minute, with 20% of people paying more
than 50 cents per minute and 10% paying more than $1.
- The average cost of the wireless bills studied was $3.02 per minute.
Wireless costs were higher than they should have been because
customers are only utilizing 32% of their plan allowance
- 90% of all AT&T and Verizon phone bills are improperly taxed.
- There is no meaningful phone competition for San Diego
The results of the full 87-page TeleTruth report were released
today at at UCAN web site.