Idaho telephone rates will increase just slightly next week to help keep costs down for rural residents.
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission raised a monthly charge that supports the universal service fund, which has kept rural telephone rates at no more than 25 percent above those in urban areas. The change, effective Oct. 1, will bump the fee from 12 cents to 15 cents for residential customers, and from 19 cents to 23 cents for businesses.
Commission officials say the increase was needed to help cover a $50,000 shortfall, as payments to the fund have diminished due to a decrease in household landlines. The number of Idaho residential landlines dropped 8 percent in the year ending May 1 to 253,400, and business landlines dropped by 1 percent to 219,100.