Overseas base residents, businesses face big jump in basic phone rates
September 4, 2003
Overseas military base residents will have to dig deeper in their pockets to pay for basic telephone service next month.
Beginning Oct. 1, the basic rate for residential, or Class B-1, telephone service will increase by 41 percent, according to the Department of Defense comptroller’s Web site.
That means residential users will pay $34.68 a month for basic telephone service. The current residential rate is $24.34 a month. The $10.34 increase amounts to an extra $124.08 per year.
Military officials on Okinawa were scrambling Tuesday to get the word out.
“We’re going far and wide to as many outlets as we can think of — AFN, base papers — so people can be prepared for that first big phone bill,” said Marine Capt. Charles Spencer, head of Camp Foster’s Marines’ Customer Support Branch. “I can’t tell you why it’s going up so much. The only justification we’ve heard is that DOD changed their methodology in figuring out the rates.”
Commercial telephone customers will be paying even more.
It will cost 61 percent more to do business over the phone overseas, the Web site says.
Commercial, or Class B-2, users will be paying $69.36 per month. Commercial users are defined by Department of Defense regulations as public schools, base exchanges, credit unions, banks, thrift shops, the American Red Cross and “other profit or nonprofit organizations operating on behalf of the Department of Defense.”
The rate for commercial customers currently is $43.07 per month.
The increase means businesses and nonprofit groups at overseas installations will have to pay an extra $315.48 per year for basic local service.
“What I can tell you is that this is definitely going to make an impact on our customers, especially our commercial customers,” Spencer said. “The cost of doing business just went up.”
According to a DOD memo, the “increase is directly due to a correction in the methodology used.”
“In previous years, a standard DOD inflation factor (1.3 percent in fiscal year 2003) was applied to the current year rate to determine the new, budget year reimbursable rate,” an Aug. 13 memo from the comptroller’s office said. The new rate, determined by the Defense Information Systems Agency, is based on “current year actual data.”
The basic rate increases will be applied to bases worldwide, including Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The new rates apply for all telephone services provided by Defense agencies for personal or unofficial purposes.
Long distance rates vary from base to base.