Idaho landline fund loses revenue as cellphone use increases

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A state fund that helps keep phone landlines affordable for rural Idaho residents is losing revenue as more people switch to cellphones.

The Idaho Statesman reports the Idaho Public Utilities Commission is figuring out how to keep the state fund solvent as it loses revenue that's acquired by surcharges on landline bills.

The Universal Service Fund was established in 1988 to ensure reasonable landline rates by subsidizing eight small phone companies.

The commission doubled the surcharge fee in September as the number of landlines continued dropping. The surcharges don't apply to cellphones or internet-based phones.

The commission says the fund is unsustainable even with the higher fees.

The commission says it has scheduled two workshops in coming weeks to discuss the issue with industry representatives and the public.
Information from: Idaho Statesman,

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