Phone rates could shoot way up in 2011

As it is now, phone companies must get approval from the California Public Utilities Commission to raise basic phone rates, but that all ends on January first.

Starting next year, regulations expire and phone companies can raise landline rates to whatever they want. That includes the basic residential rates and lifeline rates that are set aside for low income residents.

However, Wednesday the PUC's consumer advocacy division urged the commission to keep a cap on rates beyond Jan. 1. So far, the PUC is not scheduled to take up this issue.

The two biggest landline providers, AT&T and Verizon, say rates won't go up just because the cap is lifted and competition will keep rates down.

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