By SEANNA ADCOX
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ Cellphone customers would help pay for phone services for rural customers and people with disabilities under a bill that narrowly passed the state Senate.
The Senate voted 22-20 on a measure that lowers fees for landline customers by extending them to cellphone and internet phones.
Opponents say it forces cellphone users to subsidize old technology.
Office of Regulatory Staff director Dukes Scott says it’s only fair to spread the cost to everyone who benefits from landline connections, since even wireless calls are relayed over landlines between cellphone towers.
Currently, landline customers pay 25 cents monthly to ensure nearly 25,000 deaf and speech-impaired residents can communicate by phone, plus nearly 3 percent of their bill for rural landlines. That would change to 6 cents and 1 percent if the House agrees.