• Telephone provider to be exempt from most price controls By Sean Murphy Associated Press Writer OKLAHOMA CITY — State regulators decided Thursday that SBC Communications, Oklahoma’s largest telephone service provider, should be exempt from most price controls. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission approved the deregulation order by a 2-1 vote. The 44-page order also includes a directive for SBC, formerly known as Southwestern Bell, to expand its broadband capability to 68 rural communities across the state that currently don’t have access to high-speed Internet. “It will be tremendous for rural Oklahoma,” said SBC Oklahoma President Don Cain. “It’s going to provide them with broadband communications, just like the urban and metro areas.” The plan calls for SBC to install new DSL equipment within the next two years. Consumers within a three-mile radius of this equipment will have high-speed access, said SBC spokesman Andy Morgan. The order gives SBC greater flexibility to set new prices for local phone service, but still maintains some price controls for SBC. Price hikes in rural areas would be limited to no more than $2 per month, or $24 in a one-year period. It also requires SBC to submit regular reports to the commission and the state attorney general’s office. “This order continues regular reporting and complete regulatory oversight of this commission, with the flexibility to pull back if the market dictates,” said Commissioner Denise Bode, who voted with Commissioner Jeff Cloud to approve the order. But Commissioner Bob Anthony, who opposed the plan, said DSL and local telephone rates are separate functions and should not have been included in the same order. SBC provides DSL through an affiliate, Advanced Solutions, Inc., which Anthony said is not regulated by the commission. Therefore, he said the commission doesn’t have the authority to require the company to provide DSL. Anthony said he supports expanding DSL into rural communities, but that he opposes the rest of SBC’s application. “Simply put, there’s not telephone competition everywhere in Oklahoma,” Anthony said. “There’s a lot of places, particularly in the smaller towns, where there’s only one phone company.”

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