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Archive for Saturday, September 8, 2001

Commissioner disagrees with telephone rate raise

September 8, 2001

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When an order comes down Monday raising local telephone rates, Kansas Corporation Commissioner Brian Moline said he will deliver a detailed, written dissent.

"This is one of the most important decisions we have made," Moline said. And, according to his forthcoming dissent, it was the wrong one.

Written dissents are almost unheard of at the KCC. Moline argues the new rates will benefit some businesses as the expense of most home phone customers.

Last month, the KCC voted 2-1 to allow Southwestern Bell and Sprint to increase their local phone rates. Moline voted against it. The official order is expected Monday.

Southwestern Bell residential phone rates will increase from $1.65 per month to $2 per month. Sprint's local rates will go up $4.50 per month to $6.75 per month over three years.

Additionally, under the agreement AT&T and Sprint's long distance company will reduce long distance rates by an unknown amount because the companies say that information at this time is private business information.

The KCC staff has estimated that Southwestern Bell customers who make 90 minutes of in-state, long-distance calls each month will benefit from the plan. The break-even point for Sprint customers will be four hours per month of in-state long distance calls.

Few residential users make enough in-state phone calls to benefit, Moline said.

"The dirty little secret here is if you are a heavy user of long distance, such as a business, you will make out like a bandit," Moline said.

Commissioners who voted for the deal said it was necessary to raise local rates to attract more competition, which in the long run could reduce rates.

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