Idaho land-line telephone rates will increase slightly beginning Oct. 1 to help cover the cost of providing service in high-cost rural areas.
A surcharge, called the Universal Service Fund, will increase to 15 cents a month from 12 cents a month for residential lines, under an order signed by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission. Business lines will pay 23 cents a month up from 19 cents. Customers who have long-distance companies will pay $.004 (four tenths of a cent) per minute, up from $.0035.
Rural telephone companies are able to keep rates at no more than 25 percent higher than urban rates through the surcharge, which is collected by telephone companies from customers. The fund collected $1.65 million through June 30, but payments to eight rural phone companies totaled $1.7 million.
With the increasing use of cell phones, the number of residential and business land lines continues to decrease, which causes the amount paid into the fund to decline.