Beginning August 1, 2011 telecommunications customers will see changes to the fees assessed on their services. These changes are the result of new regulations adopted by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) and supported by the telecommunications industry.
A large portion of the cost of landline connections from customer’s homes and businesses to the long-distance network within Alaska has historically been paid for by the long distance service providers who then recover that cost from customers through rates for in-state long distance calls. This is part of the reason Alaska’s rates for long-distance calls within the state have not declined as much as the rates for long-distance calls out-of-state. The RCA, seeking to remedy this growing divergence between in-state and out-of-state rates, has mirrored federal access charge reforms which recover these costs, in part, through a universal service mechanism. A similar system for Alaska will be implemented through these changes:
· The Network Access Fee (NAF) will increase from $3.00 to $3.75 per month with annual increases over four years until the total monthly fee reaches $5.75. The NAF is a monthly charge to connect landline service to the in-state long distance network. Lifeline customers will not be impacted by this increase.
· The Alaska Universal Service Fund (AUSF) surcharge will increase to 9.5 percent of the cost for each service. This surcharge ensures that Alaskans, like Americans living in other high-cost remote areas, have access to affordable telecommunications services. The surcharge increase will fund any in-state network costs not covered by the increased NAF. The AUSF surcharge will later decrease as the NAF increases. The AUSF surcharge is applied to all telecommunications services.
For additional information regarding these changes, please call a customer service representative at 1-800-478-3127. Information may also be obtained at the RCA website at http://rca.alaska.gov/.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Increases to the NAF and AUSF
Q. Will Lifeline customers pay more for their service?
A. Lifeline customers will continue to pay just $1 for basic service but the 1.32% AUSF surcharge will now be 9.5%, an increase of 8 cents applicable to the $1 Lifeline rate. The AUSF rate would also be applied to any additional services such as custom calling features.
Q. Why are calls to other states less expensive than calls within Alaska?
A. The regulator for interstate calls, the Federal Communications Commission, made changes to its regulations about ten years ago that are similar to what the RCA is doing now within the state of Alaska. Since then the rates for interstate calls have decreased significantly. The growing divergence between in-state and out-of-state rates is part of what has prompted this action by the RCA.
Q. Why do cellular services have to pay a surcharge to pay for the landline network?
A. Cellular service, as well as internet-based communications, depend on the same telecommunications infrastructure that long distance carriers use and pay for; however, they previously have not been charged for their use except for Alaska Universal Service surcharges.