PSC Reconsiders Phone Rate Hike

BellSouth, Sprint and Verizon want to hike their residential rates anywhere from $4 to $7 a month.

Florida’s Attorney General Charlie Crist forced the PSC to take another look at the phone rate hike. "The legislation is not an automatic ticket to a rate increase."

The attorney general says if allowed to stand, the hike will not lead to more competition that's because a federal court ruling makes it more costly for new companies to get in the local phone business.

Crist also argued the increases are against the public interest. "Consumers are a captive market who have no other choice but to forgo spending on food and medicine in order to continue to pay for basic phone service."

Legal standards for reconsidering the hike that was approved in December are strict. The phone companies all argued the standard was not met. With a unanimous vote the PSC this week refused to reverse the rate hike.

The decision opens the door for the phone companies to come back to the PSC and say let us raise local rates right now. That leaves Charlie Crist vowing to keep challenging the hike in the Florida Supreme Court.

"We will take it to the mat, we will go to the Supreme Court. We look forward to the supreme court rendering justice for the people and stopping this outrageous increase from going into effect."

It will likely be this fall before the high court takes up the case.