US WEST Communications, formerly Mountain Bell, said that by the end of this summer it will introduce optional residential phone service in packages of limited phone calls and custom calling features.
Utah's Public Service Commission gave US WEST the go-ahead last week to begin implementing the new phone service, which may be marketed by the end of August, company spokeswoman Carol Dunlap said.US WEST calls the packaged rates TeleChoice and said Utah was one of the last states in the Mountain West not offering it.
"We think this is the direction we should be taking to meet our customers' needs and wants in Utah," Dunlap said.
As an option to regular residential service, the phone company will offer five different packages:
- First Class Message Usage offers 180 calls per month, 25 directory service calls, a directory listing and five custom calling features - such as call forwarding, call waiting, three-way calling or speed dialing - for $28 a month.
- First Class Unlimited Usage offers unlimited local phone calls, five custom calling features, 25 directory assistance calls and a directory listing for $33 a month.
- First Class Unlimited Usage offers unlimited local calls with just two custom calling features and a directory listing for $19.40.
- Trendsetter Message Usage allows 90 local calls a month, two custom calling features and an additional directory listing for $19.
- Trendsetter Message Usage allows a 45-call limit, two custom calling features and an additional directory listing for $16.50.
Packages without the custom calling or other options will also be available, Dunlap said.
Customers will be charged 10 cents for each call past the limit and the package prices don't include taxes or Extended Area Service calling.
But US WEST said each package is less expensive than buying the features separately.
Dunlap said TeleChoice resulted from extensive market research that found customers wanted phone service tailored to meet personal needs.
But state regulators didn't entirely approve the phone company's intitial proposal filed earlier this year, which offered volume discounts on in-state long distance calls.
The PSC ruled out such discounts or discounting the charge for a residential private line for TeleChoice users. Each TeleChoice package must include the basic $12.50 charge for a private line that all US WEST residential customers pay, Dunlap said.
Although the PSC required changes to the initial TeleChoice proposal, the state's Committee of Consumer Services is not pleased with the new service's limiting phone calls and charging by-the-call, saying TeleChoice is a form of measured or metered service.
The committee has long opposed measured service - where phone service is charged according to distance, time, number of calls or other measures - saying it is harmful to consumers in the long run as their phone habits may change.
But Dunlap said TeleChoice is not a form or threat of measured service, but is an option that will satisfy the needs of certain US WEST customers.