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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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State sets two hearings on Verizon rate-hike request

The Spokesman-Review

State regulators will hold two meetings this month to hear the public’s views on Verizon’s proposed telephone rate increases.

Last summer, Verizon proposed raising rates by about $10 a month for both business and residential customers. The company has scaled back that request and is asking Washington customers to pay an additional $2.43 a month starting May 1, and $1.47 a month on top of that starting in July 2007. Also, customers would pay higher fees for directory assistance, additional telephone book listings and late payment of bills. Those rate proposals don’t affect Verizon’s wireless customers.

A group including Verizon, staff members of the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, the state Attorney General’s office and three consumer-advocate groups negotiated the revised rate request. The proposal still must be approved by the WUTC.

That agency will hold two meetings to gather input on the rate request. The first will take place on March 22 in Everett and the second on March 23 in Kennewick. Comments also can be sent to comments@wutc.wa.gov, or to WUTC, P.O. Box 47250, Olympia, Wash., 98504.

The WUTC is expected to make a decision in May.

Verizon, formerly GTE, is the state’s second-largest phone company. It serves Newport and Pullman in Eastern Washington.

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