Oklahoma telephone customers got a temporary reprieve Thursday after the Corporation Commission decided against tripling the rate for a $50 million fund subsidizing Internet access for schools, libraries and telemedicine.
Commissioners voted 2-1 to leave the rate for the Oklahoma Universal Service Fund at 0.64 percent. That went against a staff recommendation of 2.16 percent for the upcoming fiscal year.
Commissioner Dana Murphy voted against the current rate, saying it wouldn’t adequately fund universal services. She said the smaller rate was a temporary move to draw down on a surplus built up over several years. The rate in fiscal years 2012 and 2013 was 3.14 percent.
“When the commission lowered the factor a year ago, it did so with the knowledge and understanding that such a reduction would necessarily be short-lived because the surplus balance upon which it was based and depended would become depleted,” Murphy wrote in her dissent.
Commissioners Bob Anthony and Patrice Douglas said commissioners could come back later and reassess the rate if the fund ran out of money.