Study Supports Competition in Telecommunications Industry

Article excerpt

Journal Record Staff Reporter

Oklahoma would get more than 35,000 of the 3.6 million jobs projected to be created nationwide over the next decade by more competition in the telecommunications industry, according to a private study released Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

U.S. consumers would save nearly $630 billion by 2003 in lower long-distance and cable television rates, the study also noted.

It was conducted for the seven regional Bell companies by the Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates Group in Massachusetts. Southwestern Bell Telephone Co., which serves Oklahoma and four surrounding states as a unit of Southwestern Bell Corp. of San Antonio, released the study locally. Cost of the survey was withheld.

Distribution of the study was anticipated to be made to Congress, the Clinton Administration, the Federal Communications Commission and state officials within the Bell service regions.

Particularly, the study supported "free and open competition" by removing restrictions on the regional phone companies in the areas of long-distance and cable television.

The 1984 breakup of American Telephone Telegraph Co. prohibited the Bell offspring from participating in long-distance, telecommunications equipment manufacturing and information services. The 1984 Cable Act excluded baby Bells in that business.

In 1991, a federal court lifted the restriction on information services, which includes such things as information hotlines and electronic Yellow Pages. The decision was recently upheld.

Oklahoma progressed toward the goal of industrywide competition with the telecommunications bill adopted in the state legislature last year, said Bell spokeswoman Paula Burkes in Oklahoma City. …