The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) issued an order that would raise the “base affordable rate” charged by telecommunication carriers to $18 beginning July 1, 2016 and to $20.00 beginning July 1, 2017.
Regulated telephone companies such as Carbon/Emery Telcom and Emery Telcom have traditionally had rates set by the Utah Public Service Commission. This is the first time the federal government has tried to exercise jurisdiction over local rate setting. This base affordable rate includes the base rate plus extended area charges.
Carbon/Emery Telcom and Emery Telcom charges $17 for basic telephone service as approved by the Utah Public Service Commission. This includes a base rate in Carbon County of $16.50 and an extended area service charge of $0.50. In Emery County this includes a base rate of $15.00 and an extended area service charge of $2.00.
The Utah Public Service Commission has filed a proceeding that would raise the rates for all rural companies to $18.00 excluding extended area service charges. Under this proposed rule, the rates in Carbon County would go up from $17.00 to $18.50 and the rates in Emery County would go up from $17.00 to $20.00.
Emery Telcom through its state association has filed comments requesting that the Utah Public Service Commission not raise rural telephone rates as the commission is proposing. Emery Telcom has also argued that not all rural areas in Utah are equal economically, and that a statewide base affordable rate is not reasonable.
“Emery Telcom fights to keep rates low in Carbon and Emery counties,” Emery Telcom CEO Brock Johansen said. “We are fighting the FCC order on the federal level and will argue against the Public Service Commission’s proposed rule on the state level. The Public Service Commission seemed to be trying to match the state and federal rules, but the proposed rule actually proposes higher rates. This is just incorrect.”
Residents that want to comment can contact the Utah Public Service Commission at 801-530-7622 and/or the Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-5501.