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.