Phone regulation proposal submitted

by Bob Vandewater

The Daily Oklahoman - September 22, 1999

On the eve of a meeting today in which the state Corporation Commission will hear about alternatives for how major phone companies are regulated in Oklahoma, commission Chairman Bob Anthony proposed a plan of his own Tuesday.

"From the calls we have received over the years, it is apparent that customers care more about what Southwestern Bell charges and the types of services available than the company's final profit levels," Anthony said.

His proposal calls for opening Bell's local-service phone markets to competition, incentives to attract companies into the market and increasing a discount in the wholesale rate Bell charges other phone companies to resell its services.

Anthony said his proposal, which includes several other features, can stimulate discussion. "If nothing else, it can provide the commission with a baseline position should the industry not be able to come forward with its own consensus view," he said.

Bell spokeswoman Karen Kay Speer said, "We're encouraged Commissioner Anthony has introduced his proposal, especially his plan to eliminate outdated earnings regulation.

"We've been working with the corporation commission for more than a year on these issues. We will continue to work with the commission to reach a speedy resolution that benefits consumers and enhances the state's economic development efforts. We look forward to looking at the details of Commissioner Anthony's plan and we hope the commission will approve a reasonable alternative regulatory plan."

Starting at 1 p.m. today, the commission is scheduled to conduct a meeting in which representatives of the agency's staff and the telecommunications industry will discuss alternative regulation, expanded calling scopes and the industry's infrastructure.

The meeting will be in the commission's main courtroom in the Jim Thorpe Office Building, 2101 Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City.

A commission public hearing on proposals for new rules for alternative telecommunications regulation is scheduled for Oct. 13.

© 1999 The Daily Oklahoman

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