Phone company will lift toll for Boise callsCommission approves plan to create new calling area; charges could be eliminated by April
BOISE -- Tolls on calls to Boise will no longer ring charges by the minute.
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission approved an expanded calling area that includes Nampa, Caldwell and Boise on Friday. Long-distance charges could be eliminated by April or May and unlimited toll-free calling can begin, according to US WEST spokesman Clint Berry.
The commission also approved expanded calling areas in the Magic Valley and in Idaho Falls. The Magic Valley around Twin Falls should become a local calling area in January, Berry said.
"It's really good news for our customers and for businesses and for community leaders," Berry said. "It will enhance their abilities to work a little bit closer."
The commission's ruling will enable 87 percent of US WEST's southern Idaho customers to call toll-free within much of southeastern, south-central or southwestern Idaho.
The ruling approves, with some modifications, an agreement reached this past April between the commission staff and the state's largest telecommunications provider.
It also ends a 7-year-old US WEST revenue-sharing plan and allocates $12.9 million in accumulated 1995 and 1996 revenues to offset rate increases and to cover the company's cost of implementing extended-area service.
Extended-area service regions created by the decision are:
* Southwestern, including Boise, Caldwell, Eagle, Emmett, Idaho City, Kuna, Melba, Meridian, Middleton, Nampa, and Star.
* Southeastern, including American Falls, Bancroft, Blackfoot, Downey, Firth, Grace, Idaho Falls, Inkom, Lava Hot Springs, McCammon, Pocatello, Rexburg, Rigby, Ririe, Roberts, Shelley and Soda Springs.
* South-central, including Bliss, Buhl, Castleford, Dietrich, Eden, Gooding, Hagerman, Hazelton, Jerome, Kimberly, Murtaugh, Shoshone, Twin Falls and Wendell.
Commissioners approved using $11 million in revenue-sharing funds as rural zone-charge credits for US WEST's 360,000 residential and small-business customers to offset higher rates.
Of the remaining revenue-sharing money, $1.5 million will be used to cover capital costs of implementing the extended-area service regions, $105,000 will reimburse US West for past implementation of extended-area service elsewhere and $300,000 will finance a state Board of Education plan to link Idaho college and university cities to a "virtual university" center in Idaho Falls.
Reprinted by permission of Idaho Press Tribune Note: article retyped in HTML for better readability.