Commission Approves Phone Rate Increase

Sprint customers will see local charges go up nearly $7.00 a month over the next couple of years, but some are seeing a silver lining.

Ned Bliss jokes that his blood pressure went up when he found out the state public service commission had approved the request by the state's three main phone companies to raise his phone rates.

He thinks the money will go right into the pockets of the telecom giants.

“It sounds very much like those who need it least are getting the greatest benefit,” said Bliss.

But the rate increase is supposed to benefit thousands of low-income residents by expanding the eligibility of the lifeline program. A single person can now earn just over $12,000 a year and still qualify for a $13.50 cent credit each month toward his or her phone bill.

Families of four can earn nearly $25,000 and still be eligible.

Joel Curry was pleased to hear he'd probably qualify. He's on disability, and says he could use the extra cash. Gov. Jeb Bush supported the phone rate increase and seems unconcerned about Attorney Gen. Charlie Crist's threat to appeal the decision all the way to the state Supreme Court.

Bush says he believes more people will benefit than be hurt by the rate changes in the long run. He just may have a hard time convincing people like Ned Bliss. The phone rate increase is on hold while Attorney Gen. Charlie Crist asks the PSC to reconsider its decision.