Proposal would allow CenturyLink greater flexibility in setting telephone rates

Local residents might be concerned that their telephone bills will rise after receiving a public notice mailer from the state Utilities and Transportation Commission regulatory hearing from local telecom provider CenturyLink last week.

CenturyLink, as a condition of buying Qwest earlier this year, was required to petition the state's Utilities and Transportation Commission to grant the new company a seven-year renewal of an Alternative Form of Regulation previously granted to Qwest in 2006.

The UTC staff has already approved an agreement with CenturyLink, but the three-member commission is required to hold a hearing, scheduled for today, Oct. 16 in Olympia, at which objections to the new regulatory arrangement can be made.

The postcard succinctly summarizes the effect of the petition, which is almost certain to be approved: "This means that CenturyLink is permitted to change rates, terms and conditions of a service without approval from the UTC."

Frontier Communications, which provides telephone service in the Everett area and a few other locations in Washington, recently obtained an AFOR from the UTC. The result was that most local phone service provided by Frontier went up in price by about $1 per month.

Only local telephone service is affected by the new regulatory scheme. Some retail service quality regulations and 911 services will continue to be subject to review by the UTC.

— By Steve Wehrly



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