When you make a one-minute phone call, the long distance company that charges you a few cents a minute has to shell out a wee little bit to a few other entities. How little? Typically some tiny fraction of a cent. The local originating company gets a fraction of a cent for handing the call to the long distance company, a database service gets a bit to look up the called number to see if it has been ported, another gets paid for looking up your name for caller-ID, and so on. Finally, the local phone company at the other end gets a fraction of a cent for delivering the call to the phone at the other end of the call.
All of these charges add up, but they still make a coast-to-coast call a real bargain. Long distance companies can stay in business with rates under a nickel a minute even after all of these micro-payments.