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Friday July 31st, 2015 3:25AM

Criticism over charging $5 phone fee on Ga. poor

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) -- Critics are asking Republican regulators not to charge poor people a monthly fee to get subsidized phone service in Georgia.

Utility regulators want to require people to pay a $5 fee if they receive federally subsidized phone service. That would represent a 54 percent cost hike for most customers. The elected members of the Public Service Commission discussed the plan Thursday and plan a vote next week.

Commissioner H. Doug Everett says people receiving government benefits should pay something.

While phone companies can avoid the fee by offering users more minutes, most providers say that would be uneconomical.

Political conservatives have targeted the program. Federal officials once estimated that roughly 15 percent of people using it were ineligible for the assistance. The federal government has moved to tighten the rules.
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