Idaho Public Utilities Commission
Case No. TMW-T-10-01, Order No. 32240
May 18, 2011
Contact: Gene Fadness (208) 334-0339, 890-2712
T-Mobile applies for universal service funding
The cell phone carrier T-Mobile West Corp. is asking state regulators to declare it eligible to receive federal funds to expand its wireless network in Idaho.
T-Mobile is seeking designation as an “eligible telecommunications carrier” (ETC) from the Idaho Public Utilities Commission. The ETC status would mean that T-Mobile could receive support from the federal Universal Service Fund (USF), which was created by Congress to ensure that telephone consumers in rural areas – where it costs more to build a telephone network – can have access to the same telecommunications services as consumers in urban areas at roughly the same cost. All telephone companies providing interstate service contribute to the USF. The companies pass that cost on to their customers who pay a portion of their bill each month to support the Universal Service Fund.
Competitive wireless companies now receive the same federal support as wireline companies if state commissions find that ETC designation promotes competition and is in the public interest.
T-Mobile currently provides service in various locations around the state. It asserts that with ETC status it will be able to provide all the services supported by the USF including access to directory and emergency services and will make discounted services available to qualifying low-income customers. The company asserts that it complies with the national consumer protection code.
T-Mobile claims ETC designation is in the public interest because it provides consumers with competitive pricing and new services in rural areas.
The commission is taking comment on T-Mobile’s application through June 2. Comments are accepted via e-mail by accessing the commission’s homepage at www.puc.idaho.gov and clicking on "Comments & Questions About a Case." Fill in the case number (TMW-T-10-01) and enter your comments. Comments can also be mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0074 or faxed to (208) 334-3762.
A full text of the commission’s order, along with other documents related to this case, is available on the commission’s Web site at www.puc.idaho.gov. Click on the telephone icon, then on “Open Telecom Cases,” and scroll down to the above case number.