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Alaska Communications Systems will attempt to even phone rates around the state and bring residential rates on par with those around the country with rate changes its proposing to the Regulatory Commission of Alaska this fall, said Mary Ann Pease, vice president of corporate communications for ACS.
For residents of North Pole and Fairbanks, residential rates would go down. For Juneau residents, ACS residential rates for local calls would increase by slightly less than $3 a month, from $9.42 to $12.25.
"We haven't raised residential rates (in Juneau) for 13 years," said Pease.
ACS, a telecommunications company headquartered in Anchorage, operates about 30,000 residential and business phone lines in Juneau, Pease said.
With the proposed change, most residential phone lines in the state would cost $12.25 a month. That's less than the national average for residential phone lines, which is $14.55, Pease said.
The basic business rate in Juneau would stay the same, and other business packages would decrease by as much as $11 per month, if the rate change is approved.
According to its Web site, www.gci.com, GCI, the other local phone service provider in Juneau, charges $9.15 for its basic residential service package.
ACS is required to submit all proposed rate changes to the Regulatory Commission of Alaska, a state-run entity charged with ensuring that utility rates and services are reasonable.
The RCA will issue public notices regarding the proposed change today, said Cathy Sabrowski, publications specialist with the commission.
Soon after a 30-day comment period, the proposed changes will be presented to the commission, which can approve, deny or suspend a ruling on the changes, Sabrowski said.
"They're looking out for the consumer," she said. "Everything is ensuring that there's affordable and reliable telephone services to support the community."
If the rate changes are approved, ACS would take a revenue cut of about $4 million throughout the state, Pease said.
"As a business plan, the intent is to retain customers," she said. "If you don't do something with your rates, then your customers continue to flood out the door."
ACS held public meetings at Centennial Hall on Thursday for customers to discuss the proposed rate changes and to learn about ACS services, but very few people had shown up by late afternoon.
"There hasn't been very much of a reaction," Pease said. "In Fairbanks, the biggest thing I had were people coming in who couldn't get high-speed Internet."
In Juneau, one person showed up at the meeting to find out about high-speed Internet access through ACS and another came to inquire about phone book recycling, she said.