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Telephone rate hike requested

Frontier Communications-St. Croix has applied for permission to substantially hike basic residential telephone rates over the next four years.

According to a notice from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, Frontier would be allowed to raise basic, local rates by as much as 30 percent per year, with a maximum of 100 percent over four years.

Company officials tell customers not to panic, however.

Just because the company has permission for the increases doesn't mean they will actually escalate rates, said Jack Philips, regulatory manager for Frontier Communications.

"It sounds a little onerous, but the reality is they're just giving us some latitude in setting our rates," Philips said. "We have that flexibility in other places and we haven't taken advantage of it."

Although the company would, in fact, have the ability to hike the basic rate by 30 percent (or a maximum of $2), Philips said Frontier would also be required to reduce other rates to offset the hikes.

If new rates are implemented, Frontier would be restricted to just a 5 percent per year revenue increase overall, Philips said.

It's unclear if Frontier would actually hike the basic residential local rates, or if they do how much of a hike they would pass onto customers, Philips said.

"This doesn't mean we'll actually implement an increase," he said. "It sounds a little scary, but it's a little bit out of context."

If the PSC approves the company's four-year plan, Frontier does intend to adjust some of its business telephone rates, which can vary greatly even though the products are the same, he said.

"We need to get our rates closer together for similar services," he said.

If adopted, the Frontier four-year plan would take effect May 15.

The Public Service Commission will accept comments about the reasonableness of Frontier's proposal by noon April 17. Members of the public can also request a hearing on the subject by the mid-April deadline.

To file a comment, write to the PSC, 610 N. Whitney Way, P.O. Box 7854, Madison, WI 53707-7854.

For more information, contact docket coordinator Kenneth Barth at (608) 267-2406.

Frontier Communications - Star Prairie serves customers in New Richmond and Star Prairie.