AUGUSTA (AP) – The Public Utilities Commission on Monday approved telephone rate increases for Unitel Inc. and Mid-Maine Telecom as part of a plan to reduce access charges and hold down the cost of in-state long distance calls.

Residential customers of Unitel, which serves Albion, Newburgh, Thorndike and Unity, will pay an additional $2 to $5 a month for the premium option range, while those of Mid-Maine Telecom, in Levant, Alton, Plymouth, West Enfield and rural Old Town, will pay roughly $2 to $3 more.

In addition to raising basic rates, the two companies have been allowed to draw support from Maine’s new Universal Service Fund, which is intended to ensure that rates for basic service in rural areas are in line with those in urban parts of the state.

The PUC order calls for rate increases in two steps, one in December and the other in June 2003, enabling Unitel and Mid-Maine Telecom to offer basic service at rates that match Verizon’s levels.

AP-ES-08-04-03 1519EDT

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