Southwestern Bell raises rates in Missouri

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Missourians will pay more for call waiting, caller ID and other popular features after a rate increase from SBC Southwestern Bell went into effect May 6, thanks to a tie vote on the Missouri Public Service Commission two weeks ago.

Rates for basic residential and business service will not change, though some long-distance rates will go up.

On April, commissioners deadlocked 2-2 on a proposal that would have delayed the increases. The tie vote means the delay proposal failed, and the increases went into effect as planned.

Commission chairman Kelvin Simmons and commissioner Steve Gaw voted for a delay, while commissioners Connie Murray and Bryan Forbis voted against it. Commissioner Sheila Lumpe was ill and missed the vote.

Southwestern Bell is not saying how much revenue it expects to add from the price changes.

Add-ons such as call waiting and three-way calling, some operator-assisted services and some long-distance rates, will go up.

A handful of rates, including certain directory service rates and certain bundled service packages, such as "The Works," will go down.

Most affected rates will go up 8 percent, the maximum allowed each year under state regulations that cap phone service prices.

And some rates that no longer fall under the price cap will go up even higher, including some business long-distance rates, which will shoot up 32 to 40 percent.

Southwestern Bell is also changing the way it charges for long distance. Previously, callers paid more the farther they were from the call's recipient. Southwestern Bell will now charge a flat rate, meaning some callers will see lower long-distance bills, and others will see higher bills.

Southwestern Bell spokesman Dave Baldridge said the increases will mostly affect customers who order the features individually.

Southwestern Bell has about 2.7 million lines in Missouri.

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