Tariffs contain the rates, terms and conditions of certain services provided by telecommunications carriers. The most common tariff filed at the FCC is for interstate local access service. These tariffs are filed by local exchange carriers, or LECs.

Long-distance companies and others pay the rates set out in these tariffs to LECs for access to local networks at the originating and/or terminating ends of a long-distance call. Access services include:

  • End User access, which mainly recovers the Subscriber Line Charge, the Access Recovery Charge, and the Universal Service Fund Charge.
  • Switched access, used primarily for long-distance calls originating and/or terminating over a local exchange connection.
  • Special access, a dedicated line provided by a LEC to a customer, which could be a long-distance company, for the customer's exclusive use.
  • Rates and conditions for services that include DSL from certain carriers, packet-switched services, long-distance directory assistance access and other services.

LECs do not file tariffs for local and intrastate services with the FCC, because the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (the Act) governs only interstate and international services.

Except in very limited circumstances, long-distance companies are not permitted to file tariffs for long-distance service because the FCC has determined that the long-distance market is competitive. Like long-distance service, many broadband services have been detariffed. Tariffs are optional for competitive LECs, but they may not file tariffs for switched access if the price does not comply with the benchmark rules and the intercarrier compensation rules.

Tariffs must be just and reasonable and may not be unreasonably discriminatory under Sections 201(a) and 202(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended.

Notice Periods

Tariffs are typically filed under a process that gives the public 15 days' notice on proposed price increases and changes in terms and conditions; and seven days' notice on proposed price reductions. Any member of the public may file comments during the time allowed under the rules. Tariffs filed under this process are "deemed lawful," meaning that if an investigation subsequent to the effective date shows that tariffs are unlawful, the carrier is only liable prospectively.

Part 61 and Part 69 of the FCC's rules detail other possible notice periods under which carriers can file tariffs. There are other rules, Commission Orders, and policies that govern tariffs. Tariffs are administered by the Pricing Policy Division.

Tariff Investigations

The Act provides that the FCC may institute an investigation of any tariff before or after it becomes effective. Investigations can be instituted on the FCC's own initiative or in response to a complaint filed by a carrier or consumer.

Detariffing Information

Domestic Interexchange Service Detariffing

Effective July 31, 2000, all non-dominant carriers were required to cancel (detariff) their interexchange services and thereafter provide their domestic interstate interexchange services on a non-tariffed basis. More details are available at the mandatory detariffing informational page.

More Key Mandatory Detariffing Commission Releases are available below:

International Detariffing Takes Effect January 28, 2002

No later than January 28, 2002, all non-dominant carriers must cancel (detariff) their international interexchange tariffs and thereafter provide their international interexchange services on a non-tariffed basis. During the interim transition period from April 28, 2001 - January 28, 2002, carriers may file new or revised tariffs for mass market international interexchange services. Carriers may not file new or revised contract tariffs or tariffs for other long term international service arrangements. More details are available at the mandatory detariffing informational page.

Additional International Detariffing Commission Releases can be found below:

CLEC Permissive Detariffing and Application of the Benchmark Rate

CLECs may file tariffs or offer service on a permissively detariffed basis, and in both cases, the rates and regulations are still subject to 201(b) and 202(a) of the Act. Switched access rates are subject to a benchmark rate requirement and the ICC rules. Additionally, Truth-in-Billing rule may apply.

Additional Information can be found below:

Electronic Tariff Filing System (ETFS)

The Electronic Tariff Filing System (ETFS) [18] is a web-based system through which all carriers must submit official tariffs and carriers classified as dominant must submit any required associated supporting materials to the FCC. The public may also use ETFS to view these tariffs and documents.