Why yes, they can go higher! In last month's blog "ILEC Retail Rates - How high will they go" dated12/1/14, I noted several trends in rate increases across the nation. Well, we're only through the first month of 2015 and here we go again!
Just six months after increasing to $1.10 per minute, AT&T (BellSouth and SBC) increased the business intraLATA 1+ rate again to $1.30 per minute. Residential intraLATA 1+ rates increased in the following states, now ranging from $0.35 to $0.50 per minute: Alabama, California, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas.
Monthly local exchange service rates for both business and residential customers increased in several states. For example, Verizon Pennsylvania increased residential dial tone line rates, CenturyLink (United and Central Telephone) increased residential access line rates in Texas, and AT&T (SBC) increased business local service rates in many states.
Did you know AT&T Illinois has increased their local access line rate for business service four times in a 19-month period, taking the rate from $37.00 to $65.00 per month? And just look at the number of changes in the last three years for a flat rate business line in AT&T Florida territory:
Special local calling plans and bundled packages were not off limits either. AT&T (BellSouth) increased the monthly charge for their Area Plus calling plan. Area Plus is an optional local exchange service, which provides residential subscribers with a flat rate access line and unlimited calling to exchanges within the subscriber's LATA. Area Plus subscribers previously had the option of combining Area Plus with the Complete Choice package of calling features. The Complete Choice package was made obsolete several years ago and replaced with the Complete Choice Basic and Enhanced package offerings. Oh, by the way, the monthly rates for Complete Choice Basic and Enhanced increased in January as well to $30.00 and $34.00, respectively in most AT&T territories.
And what about individual custom calling features? Yes, AT&T increased monthly rates for residential calling features, including Call Waiting, Three-Way Calling, Call Return, and Distinctive Ringing. Verizon increased rates for business calling features, including Caller ID and Call Forwarding.
So that was just January, I wonder what else is in store for 2015? Fortunately, we have been able to provide our CLEC clients assistance in tracking ILEC rate changes such as these, allowing them to maintain their desired profit margin and focus on market expansion.