In 2000, 532,000 people had home landlines in Idaho. The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) reports that this number fell to 152,000 last year. According to the Idaho Statesman, this shift has diminished a 30-year-old fund that keeps rural landlines affordable.
The fund was set up using surcharges and long-distance landline minutes. It gives subsidies to the companies that service more expensive rural areas. Last year the fund was short half a million dollars, prompting the PUC to raise fees for landlines throughout the state. But the commission says the increases aren’t a permanent solution.
So what options does rural Idaho have? The Statesman reports that Utah and Nebraska have begun charging cell and internet-users fees to bolster their rural landline funds. But that idea has yet to gain traction at the Idaho statehouse.
The public has two chances to give feedback to the PUC in coming months. One workshop is scheduled on Wednesday, Jan. 17 and Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 472 W. Washington St.. Boise.
Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill
Copyright 2018 Boise State Public Radio