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FCC CUTS PHONE BILLS $1 BILLION THIS YEAR

Federal regulators today took a bite out of long-distance bills, promising to save customers $1 billion this year.

The Federal Communications Commission, voting 4-1, for the first time in four years ordered a reduction in the payments long-distance carriers make to local companies to begin and end long-distance calls.

Called "access charges," the payments amount to $20 billion to $22 billion a year by FCC estimate -- roughly the annual revenues of the entire cable industry, and twice the revenues of the cellular phone business.

The effect of the FCC's decision, said Chairman Reed Hundt, is to cut access payments by roughly 5 percent in 1995, including a one-time reduction for some companies of 2.8 percent.

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