cr> Rural Phone Rate Hike Alert


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Date: Fri, 8 Mar 1996 16:57:47 +0000
From: "Robin Kane" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Rural Phone Rate Hike Alert


To:  All whom are concerned about potential huge telephone rate increases
for rural Californians
From: TURN -- Toward Utility Rate Normalization
Subject: California PUC Proposal to Allow "Geographic Rate De-averaging"
Date: March 8, 1996

Next Wednesday, March 13, 1996 at 10 a.m., the California Public
Utilities Commission (PUC) will be voting on proposals by
California's large monopoly telephone companies (Pacific Bell and GTE
California) to allow the telcos to charge dramatically higher basic
telephone rates for customers living in rural areas of California.
In PUC jargon, the proposal is to end the current policy of
"statewide average" basic rates for each telco and to replace it with
a new policy allowing "geographically de-averaged" rates.

If the PUC  makes this policy change, vast areas of the state will be
affected, not just remote areas.  "Rural areas" include households
and businesses located in easily accessible places that are not
densely populated but still close to metropolitan areas, such as many
parts of the Central Valley.  Rates in such locales could be raised
by 100% or more.

The PUC is prepared to endorse geographic de-averaging for both
households and businesses even though it has not heard anything on
this issue from the people and businesses that would be affected.
The PUC has not solicited or received any evidence about the impact
of higher rates on rural families that are barely meeting their
expenses, on rural businesses that depend on reasonable telephone
rates, and on the general economic well-being of the large regions of
the state that would be adversely affected.

TURN has urged the PUC to postpone any endorsement of geographic rate
de-averaging until it has all the facts.  If you agree, you should
fax a letter expressing your concerns to the PUC no later than the
close of business on Tuesday, March 12.  You can use the attached
draft letter as a model, or better yet, write your own.

Fax the letter to Daniel Wm. Fessler, President of the PUC at (415)
703-1758.  On the fax cover sheet, request that copies of the letter
be distributed to the other four PUC Commissioners.

If you have any questions, please call TURN at (415) 929-8876.  Our
fax number is (415) 929-1132.  Thank you for getting involved on this
issue of great importance to many Californians.


President Daniel Wm. Fessler
California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

Dear President Fessler:

We are writing to express dismay at the California Public Utilities
Commission's (CPUC's) apparent intent to authorize differential
telephone rates based on geographic regions for residential and small
business customers on March 13, 1996.  "Geographic rate deaveraging"
could have a profound and detrimental affect on the people that we
represent in the less urban areas of the state.  Such a step should
not be endorsed by the CPUC at least until the Commission has fully
considered the impact of deaveraged rates on customers and the
state's economy, particularly in rural areas.

The possibility that the CPUC could authorize such a drastic change
to California telecommunications policy comes as a surprise.  Like
most Californians we were generally aware of the CPUC's efforts to
address a broad range of telecommunications issues and of the
changes in federal legislation.  At no time was the possibility that
the CPUC would endorse setting higher service rates in rural areas
raised in press coverage or through the CPUC contacting our offices
with information about this proposal.

The fact that we were not aware of the proposal of the Commission to
endorse geographically deaveraged rates is disturbing because we
represent the people and small businesses that would be hurt by this
action.  The CPUC seems ready to commit itself to a course of action
that could seriously harm the people we represent.  Yet, it has
apparently made no effort to solicit input from public
representatives and organizations with a longstanding interest in
rural economic issues to assess the effects of differential rates on
people, small businesses and the economies of many areas of

It is important to recognize that vast areas of the state could be
affected by higher phone rates as a result of this proposal.  "Rural
areas" include not only remote areas but also accessible, though less
densely populated areas, that may be relatively close to a
metropolitan area, such as many parts of the Central Valley.  The
CPUC should not endorse a such a drastic change to telecommunications
policy without first carefully examining the economic and social
impacts of such a decision.

A proposal to endorse rates that could be significantly higher in
rural areas is a matter that, under ordinary circumstances, would
merit extremely detailed and careful consideration by the CPUC
(including public hearings) and would be of widespread public
interest because it is a profound policy change that would affect
most areas of the state.  Unfortunately it seems to have been buried
in the avalanche of telecommunications proceedings being conducted
by the CPUC.

We  strongly urge that the Commission not commit itself to
geographic rate deaveraging until it has all of the facts at its
disposal.  Such a commitment should not be made absent the
opportunity for public representatives and organizations such as the
undersigned to provide evidence about the impacts of the proposal on
residences, small businesses and rural economies.

cc:  Commissioner P. Gregory Conlon
     Commissioner Henry M. Duque
     Commissioner Jessie J. Knight Jr.
     Commissioner Josiah L Neeper

Toward Utility Rate Normalization
625 Polk St., Suite 403
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 929-8876; (415) 929-1132 fax; •••@••.•••

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