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PSC APPROVES SERVICE FUND FOR INDEPENDENT PHONE USERS

SHARE PSC APPROVES SERVICE FUND FOR INDEPENDENT PHONE USERS

The Utah Public Service Commission has approved an agreement hammered out by Utah's small independent telephone users that provides a mechanism for handling payments for in-state toll calls and defining their relationship with US WEST Communications.

The five-year agreement establishes a Universal Service Fund that the companies will use to ensure that the individual company costs for in-state toll access is covered, a move most companies agree will help keep rates for local residential service lower. The companies have also agreed to work toward a uniform rate structure for local residential service.The universal fund will be financed with a half-cent-per-minute surcharge to customers and a quarter-cent surcharge to long-distance resale companies such as MCI, U.S. Sprint and Tel-America.

The agreement is the result of nearly a year's negotiations, and PSC commissioners said the agreement eliminates the need for individual rate cases for each company. They cautioned, however, that the PSC will continue to watch rates.

Four rural companies - Kamas-Woodland, South Central, Uintah Basin and Utah-Wyoming - will have to raise local rates to be eligible to draw from the universal fund.