Missouri telephone customers will see a drop in the surcharge they pay to fund the Missouri Universal Service Fund which provides financial support to wireline carriers by offering discounted phone service to qualifying low-income or disabled Missouri residents. This program is only available through wireline carriers.
Missouri telephone customers, who use wireline home telephone service for their local and in-state long distance calling, will see a drop in the surcharge they pay to fund the Missouri Universal Service Fund under a decision by the Missouri Public Service Commission.
The assessment rate reduction takes effect July 1, 2013. Currently, the surcharge percentage of .0025 translates to 12.5 cents on a $50 bill. With this reduction, the percentage of .0017 translates to 8.5 cents on a $50 bill. The Commission voted unanimously to reduce the assessment rate based upon a recommendation from the Missouri Universal Service Board.
The Missouri Universal Service Fund provides financial support to wireline carriers by offering discounted phone service to qualifying low-income or disabled Missouri residents. This program is only available through wireline carriers. Wireless carriers (cellphones) do not participate in the Missouri program.
Qualifying low-income customers can receive discounts up to $12.75 per month on their monthly telephone bill; however, this amount can depend on the provider's basic local telecommunications service. Qualifying disabled customers can receive discounts of $3.50 on their monthly bill. Only one discount per household is allowed.
State law created a state Universal Service Fund which is funded through an assessment on all wireline telecommunications in the state. The Missouri Public Service Commission is required to establish the level of funding needed to accomplish the purposes of the Universal Service Fund.
"The Missouri Universal Service Fund is the program specifically designed to help low income and disabled individuals with the financial assistance they need for basic wireline home telephone service," Missouri PSC Commissioner Terry Jarrett said. "To continue this vital program while at the same time slightly reducing the cost to Missouri telephone customers is noteworthy."
Commissioner Jarrett currently serves as chairman of the Missouri Universal Service Fund Board.
Applications for the program are made to local telephone companies. The applications are available at local phone companies or by calling the Missouri Public Service Commission Consumer Services Hotline at 1-800-392-4211.