Residents of seven outlying Spokane and Whitman county communities will continue dialing long-distance to Spokane for at least two more months as a result of a ruling Wednesday by Washington regulators.
GTE had asked the Utilities and Transportation Commission to extend toll-free calling into the city by its customers in return for increases in monthly phone bills.
Spokane and Spangle customers of US West Communications would have been able to call into the communities with no increase in their bills.
The towns affected are Farmington, Oakesdale, Tekoa, Fairfield, Latah, Rockford and Rosalia.
The companies had asked that the change become effective June 8.
But the commissioners suggested Colfax, not Spokane, should be the focal point of any extended dialing area, GTE spokesman Bob Wayt said.
He said there were also some concerns expressed about the distance of the calls, 50 miles in some cases.
Although Colfax is the seat of Whitman County, Wayt said, GTE studies of calling patterns indicated most calling traffic was to Spokane.
And an overwhelming share of customers favored the link to Spokane, Wayt said.
The commission, he noted, had not objected to a GTE customer letter revealing the potential for a rate change.
A second letter advising them of the delay will be mailed, he said.
The case may be refiled, but Wayt said GTE has not yet decided how to respond to the commission’s ruling.
Colfax is served by US West. Spokeswoman Annette Miller said the company will work with GTE on calling-pattern studies if the company decides to refile its case.