Herald JournalHerald Journal, July 14, 2003

Telephone companies conducting rate study for metro calling in Winsted

By Julie Yurek

Winsted residents will have a chance to voice their views about metro calling through a mailed ballot vote, which could take place sometime in January or February, ventured Tom Ollig, manager of TDS TELECOM in Winsted and Monticello.

TDS TELECOM and other telephone companies in the metro area are conducting rate studies from now until the end of September, when the results must be returned to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), Ollig said.

"The studies are to determine what additive (i.e. cost) would be added to Winsted residents' phone bills if metro calling passes," he said.

"Residents are not tied into anything at this point," Ollig said.

Winsted had to meet the necessary two criteria prior to the PUC issuing a rate study; the calling area must border the metro area, and have a certain percentage of calls per Winsted resident to the metro area per month, he said.

The question will include the amount that would be added onto one's current phone charges, Ollig said.

Of the ballots returned to the PUC, 51 percent have to be in favor of metro calling in order for it to be approved, he said.

If metro calling is approved, there will be an alternate option for customers who may not use the telephone often. Those people would pay a lesser additive and would pay a per-minute charge, Ollig said.

Voting is one ballot per customer, no matter how many telephone lines he or she has. A business with 10 phone lines gets one ballot, as does a single family residence with one phone line, Ollig explained.

If metro calling passed in Winsted, Ollig speculated that a public meeting may be conducted or that information would be presented at the city council and Winsted Chamber of Commerce meetings.

If passed, the actual implementation of metro calling would take time, Ollig added.

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