Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Residents and business owners served by Chickamauga Telephone Company may soon see a hefty rate increase.
The proposed rate hikes are not the local telephone company’s fault.
“We oppose this rate increase,” said Ted Austin, marketing representative for CTC. “We believe our rates are fair and competitive in our service area.”
Typically, a rate case is brought by a utility seeking to increase the rates it charges or the Public Service Commission, the agency that regulates rates, to reduce rates being charged by a company.
But not this time.
AT&T, along with the Cable Television Association of Georgia, is asking that CTC and other small, independent telephone companies throughout the state be required to raise rates.
“Chickamauga Telephone has always attempted to provide its customers outstanding service at the lowest possible price,” CTC President Charles Fail said. “We oppose this effort to force our company to increase rates to our customers.”
Even though AT&T does not provide service to Chickamauga, that company, ranked 11th on the 2012 Fortune 500 list, wants to dictate how much CTC can charge its customers.
Proposed increases would range from 42 percent to 100 percent. The basic rate for a typical residential customer would increase by at least $5 per month, from $13.30 to $18.83. The typical business customer would see the basic monthly fee, currently $20.40, double to $40.80 each month.
While added features would not increase for residential customers, the typical business owner would see the cost of calling feature packages jump from $11.95 each month to $16 a month for the same package.
“During this economic downturn, it is just good business for us to keep our rates low,” Austin said.
CTC is not alone. Ringgold Telephone Company faces the same prospect of being forced to charge its customers more for telephone service.
On Monday, Aug. 13 at 4 p.m., the Georgia Public Service Commission has scheduled a public hearing concerning the rate increase. The hearing will be held inside the Chickamauga Civic Center, adjacent the Chickamauga Public Library, at 1817 Lee Clarkson Road.
Anyone served by RTC can attend a similar public hearing, also on Monday, Aug. 13, that will held in the Catoosa County Courthouse beginning at 7 p.m.
Anyone unable to attend these public hearings, as well as those who do, can express their opinion regarding these rate increases by writing to Reece McAlister, executive secretary of the Georgia Public Service Commission, 244 Washington St. SW, Atlanta, Ga. 30334.