Title

Public invited to comment on proposal to grant CenturyLink greater pricing flexibility on landline phone rates

Published

10/9/2013

Details

MEDIA ADVISORY
OLYMPIA, Wash. – State regulators are asking CenturyLink telephone customers to comment on whether the company should be allowed expanded pricing flexibility in setting residential and business landline telephone rates in Washington.
 
The three-member commission is expected to make a final decision this fall.
 
WHAT
A public comment hearing on a proposal to allow CenturyLink greater flexibility in setting the state’s residential and business landline telephone rates.
 
WHO
Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission
 
WHEN and WHERE
Wednesday, Oct. 16
6 p.m.

Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission
1300 S. Evergreen Park Dr. S.W.
Olympia, WA  98504
 
BACKGROUND
Under a multi-party settlement agreement filed in August, CenturyLink, commission staff and the Public Counsel Section of the Attorney General’s Office are supporting the extension and expansion of the “alternative form of regulation,” or AFOR. An AFOR was approved in 2007 for Qwest, which is now part of CenturyLink. The three parties are endorsing CenturyLink’s proposal for even more flexibility in determining rates for retail landline telephone services in all of the combined company’s service areas in Washington. This would allow the company to change rates for most of its services without commission review. However, rates for retail public interest services, such as 911 and service to low-income customers, would still be regulated. Intrastate access charges and interconnection agreements will continue to be regulated.
 
CenturyLink affiliates included in the settlement agreement are: CenturyTel of Washington (Gig Harbor and Cheney), CenturyTel of Inter Island (the San Juan Islands), CenturyTel of Cowiche (in Yakima County), and United Telephone Company of the Northwest (with customers in White Salmon, Poulsbo, Sunnyside and Prosser). Also covered by the plan are CenturyLink’s other major service territories including Tacoma, Seattle, Vancouver, and Spokane.
 
The three-member commission is expected to make a final decision to approve, reject or modify the agreement this fall.
 
The settlement agreement calls for the CenturyLink companies to continue to offer stand-alone local residential and business phone service. Should CenturyLink decide to cease offering stand-alone local residential and business phone service, it must petition the commission for approval. In-state switched access rates would remain regulated by the UTC. These are rates charged to long-distance carriers for using the CenturyLink phone network to originate or complete calls within the state.
 
The five combined telephone companies serve approximately 1 million residential and business phone lines in Washington. Headquartered in Monroe, La., CenturyLink QC is the largest local telephone company in Washington and also provides local phone service in the cities of Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue, Olympia, Bellingham, Aberdeen, Longview, Vancouver, Bremerton, Spokane, Moses Lake, Yakima, Pasco and Walla Walla.
 
The commission is the state agency in charge of regulating the rates and services of telephone companies operating in Washington, as well as classifying services and companies as competitive during the development of technological and market advancements in communications. It is the commission’s responsibility to ensure regulated companies provide safe and reliable service to customers at reasonable rates, while allowing them the opportunity to earn a fair profit. The commission does not regulate the rates of wireless, cable, or Internet telephone service.
 
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The UTC is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to meeting participants with disabilities.  If you need reasonable accommodation, please contact the commission at (360) 664-1132 or human_resources@utc.wa.gov.
 

News Category

Consumer; Telecom

Attachments

Content Type: Announcement
Created at 10/9/2013 9:11 AM by Meehan, Marilyn (UTC)
Last modified at 10/9/2013 9:11 AM by Meehan, Marilyn (UTC)