CA jacks landline rates

The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved price hikes of up to $3.25 a month on landline phones in 2009 and 2010.

Under new rates approved Thursday, basic local phone service may increase by as much as 30 percent next year and an additional 23 percent in 2010.  All four of the major phone companies offering landline service in California, including AT&T and Verizon, will be able to implement the increases.

The PUC has deregulated most California phone services and was expected to deregulate everything next year, but the commission opted to maintain a cap on local landline rates for two more years. Phone companies are (of course) unhappy because they don't get total deregulation, and consumer groups are (of course) unhappy because they opposed the rate increase.

After January 2011, AT&T, Verizon and the other smaller phone companies in CA will be free to charge whatever they want for basic local service in most parts of the state, says the PUC.

For more:
- LA Times checks in with rising California rates. Article.

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