TECHNOLOGY & TELECOMMUNICATIONS
Phone Rate Changes Could Be Delayed by Conflict Probe: The scheduled Jan. 1 start of new rates, which include a 55% increase in basic service fees and a sharp decline in local toll charges, could be held up pending an investigation into alleged improprieties at the Public Utilities Commission during the drafting of the new rates. According to Toward Utility Rate Normalization, a consumer group, Pacific Bell employees helped regulators draft the new rates just hours before they were unanimously approved. The commission, which is investigating whether the phone company’s involvement was improper, will vote next month on whether to put off the new rates. A Pacific Bell spokesman said the company believes it acted properly.