If you use a phone and who doesn't, you're about to pay more here in Texas.  Last month the Texas Public Utility Commission voted to raise rates on a surcharge service providers must pay for voice services.  This was not a subtle increase.  The rates jumps from 3.3% to 24% That is almost a jump of eight times.

The rate increase kicked in August 1st.

The surcharge will add up for customers who pay for calls on a per minute basis, landline customers and customers with family plans. So why the increase?  The Public Utility Commission is 200-millon dollars behind in payments to the Texas Universal Service fund, which is supposed to provide support so rural Texans to have universal service.

The service fund was supposed to ensure that the nearly four million Texans who live in rural areas can have access to basic communications services without paying exorbitant rates. Now, everyone else is about to pay exorbitant rates.

The Public Service Commission says that service providers are not required to pass the costs on to customers.  Yea, right.  T-Mobile has already sent out notices to customers that a major bill increase is coming.

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There are a lot of questions that come to mind.  Like, why now when the price for everything else is skyrocketing? Couldn't a smaller increase replenish the fund over a longer period?  Why did payments fall behind in the first place?

Rural customers in Texas do get better service thanks to funding from the Texas Universal Service fund, but might it be better if there were some other ways to raise the money that doesn't pit country folks against city dwellers. I suspect some of the people who live in rural areas chose to isolate themselves.  Should those of us who live in cities have to pay for that?

They say talk is cheap.  Texans can't say that anymore.

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