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LifeLine telephone rates extended for low-income customers

November 19, 2010 |  6:12 pm

Special LifeLine rates for low-income telephone customers that had been set to expire at year's end have been extended for another two years by state regulators.

The California Public Utilities Commission by a unanimous vote Friday froze the current LifeLine rate at $6.84 a month for most customers through 2012.

The program was expanded to include special rates for data services to consumers that get wireless equipment through the commission's Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program.

The five-member commission also approved a process that will allow low-income customers to receive LifeLine discounts on wireless telephone and voice-over-Internet systems.

"This major policy change is in response to the large number of low-income Californians that only have a wireless phone," said PUC President Michael Peevey.

Peevey promised to vigilantly monitor deregulated telephone company basic rates over the next two years to make sure that potential increases do not affect the affordability of LifeLine service.

After Jan. 1, 2013, LifeLine rates will be set annually as a percentage of their basic service cost.

"LifeLine rates will always be affordable," Peevey said.

-- Marc Lifsher