Nearly 70 percent of phone customers in West Virginia have the flat-rate plan.
Starting in July, the FCC will require phone companies to charge a minimum of $14 a month to qualify for federal subsidies -- $7 more than Frontier's lowest rate in West Virginia.
"Frontier will stand to lose about $1.5 million in universal service support until the FCC's rules are changed," Page said.
Frontier requested the waiver because customers pay $25 a month on average for phone service in West Virginia.
"[It's] well above the rate floor, indicating that West Virginia customers already are making a substantial contribution to the network serving them," Page said. "Frontier is asking the FCC to allow the use of an average rate for the purposes of compliance with the FCC rate benchmarks when a state has optional rates like West Virginia."
The FCC is expected to decide on Frontier's waiver request sometime before July 1.
The FCC previously announced plans to phase out the Universal Service Fund and replace it with the "Connect America Fund," which would subsidize companies such as Frontier that want to expand high-speed broadband service in rural areas. So future universal service fees collected from customers would be earmarked mostly for broadband projects.
Byron Harris, consumer advocate for the state Public Service Commission, said he has talked with Frontier executives about the FCC rule change. He supports the company's waiver request.
"If the FCC grants the waiver," Harris said, "there would be more money available to expand access to broadband in West Virginia, and that's a good thing."
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.