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A rate increase of up to $100 million; lifeline assistance for low income Alaskans is terminated; rates in rural Alaska skyrocket.

It would be a nightmare for rural telephone consumers but amendments that have been attached to a bill that would extend the life of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) will do precisely that.

Among these onerous amendments are ones that will allow phone companies to raise rates as they deem appropriate, will force local and long-distance users in rural Alaska to pay significantly more than urban users, will protect phone companies from being required to upgrade their networks and will keep phone companies from being required to serve all customers on a non-discriminatory basis.

These amendments are bad; they will destroy the RCA's ability to protect consumers and enforce policies that are designed to enhance benefits for consumers.

Norton Sound Health Corporation (NSHC) believes that the RCA has done a good job extending the benefits of telecommunication to rural Alaska. They should not be punished for doing their job.

NSHC believes the RCA should be extended just as Governor Murkowski has suggested. That is, four-years without special interest amendments. Get the RCA out of politics.