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Telephone toll
fight brews

Group wants free calls from Canyon County to Boise
Eddie North-Hager, Idaho Press Tribune
     NAMPA -- Reaching out and touching someone in Boise will continue to cost, Public Utilities Commission said today.
     But a Nampa man wants your help to convince the state agency that long-distance charges to Boise from Nampa and Caldwell should be dropped.
     The state considered that option, but eliminated the recommendation after an extensive study.
     Other routes were given priority based on criteria that included the location of the nearest law enforcement offices, hospitals, and schools, said Eileen Benner, the supervisor for the telecommunications section.
     "The reason that communities get local calling to another community, is a small one wanting service to a big one," Benner said.
     "Nampa has toll-free calling to Caldwell. (Together they have) all the services, everything that they need to conduct business within their communities. In terms of people who need to have a toll-free call to conduct a normal lifestyle, they already have it."
     If the toll was removed, the monthly service charge would increase for everybody, Benner said.
     Officials would not say what the cost would be, but estimated it would be less than $2 monthly.
The cost of a call      The commission has fielded plenty of complaints since the PUC ruled earlier this month that a discount service, provided by Upper Valley Communication, was illegal.
     The Boise Bridge charged a flat rate for a call from Nampa to Boise. Service was discontinued May 10.
     The number of Boise Bridge members is actually small, Benner said.
     Boise Bridge had about 5,000 customers out of about 150,000 callers in the tri-city area, Benner said.
     "On the surface, not that many think toll-free calling is a necessity," Benner said.
     Michael Gray of Nampa believes it is a necessity and is circulating a petition to give to the PUC. He wants toll-free calling to Boise.
     "For the past year I have had Boise Bridge, and it cost 25 cents a call," Gray said. "US WEST and the Public Utilities Commission put those guys out of business."
     About 50 people have signed to request eliminating long-distance charges between the Boise-Nampa-Caldwell area.
     "I think the whole valley is pretty much one community any way," Gray said.
     For more information about the petition, call Gray at 467-6236.

Reprinted by permission of Idaho Press Tribune Note: article retyped in HTML for better readability.
May 18, 1995 - Front Page



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