Alabama bill payers will soon see a different fee rate for emergency dispatch on their monthly monthly bills.
Starting October first, they'll go from paying $.70 each month to more than twice that rate.
Paula Simmons, assistant director for Ozark/Dale County E-911, says that "because the cell phones were at 70 cents and so many people were getting rid of landlines, the state of Alabama recognized that something had to happen so E911 won't collapse."
The state is taking action to make sure 911 can continue to operate through the creation of a flat, statewide fee of $1.60 per month.
The fee is being applied to all devices, wireless or landline, that can access 911 services.
Dale County E911 Director Larry Daniels says it all comes down to the shrinking use of landline phones.
"Technology is changing very rapidly in every communication district across the state," says Daniels.
Before the state legislature established the fee, it was all up the counties to set rates.
"Every local emergency communication district were responsible for setting their own 911 fees, based on the geographical location of their areas," Daniels explains.
For example, until October 1, Houston County's landline fee is still set at $2.00. Dale County's fee is $2.93.
Wireless rates have been flat at $.70 across the state for some time.
"The technology is rapidly changing," says Daniels, "And we're addressing those issues where they were not addressed previously."
The bottom line is wireless rates are rising, and landline rates are falling, to $1.60 across the board.
It's all in an effort to make sure E911 can keep answering phone calls in times of urgent need.
The statewide board will take a look at the revenue they collect from the fee and make adjustments as needed. They say those rate changes will not happen more than once a year.
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