Idaho landline fund loses revenue as cellphone use increases

BOISE, ID - A state fund that helps keep phone landlines affordable for rural Idaho residents is losing revenue -- as more people switch to cell phones.

The Idaho Statesman reports the Idaho Public Utilities Commission is figuring out how to keep the state fund solvent as it loses revenue that’s acquired by surcharges on landline bills.

The Universal Service Fund was established in 1988 to ensure reasonable landline rates by subsidizing eight small phone companies.

The Commission doubled the surcharge fee in September, as the number of landlines continued dropping. The surcharges don't apply to cell phones or Internet-based phones.

The Commission says the fund is unsustainable even with the higher fees.

The Commission has scheduled two workshops on January 17th and February 28th to discuss the issue with industry representatives and the public. Each is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. in the Commission’s Hearing Room, 472 W. Washington St. in downtown Boise. 

(by Associated Press)
 

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