Aaro Receives Funding to Begin Rural Telecommunications Project

Article excerpt

Aaro Broadband Wireless Communications on Tuesday said it has received funding from the Oklahoma Municipal League to begin its rural high-speed telecommunications project.

Ron Baker, president and CEO of Oklahoma City-based Aaro, said the league provided more than $270,000 for Aaro to conduct demonstration projects in the first three of nearly 50 small Oklahoma communities.

Baker and Danny George, executive director of the Oklahoma Municipal League, said the list of initial communities will be announced when negotiations are completed between the league and the individual municipalities.

"This capital infusion will allow us to go forward with this project immediately," Baker said. "Our plan is to have the first three communities on line by early March. We anticipate installing service to all 45 targeted regional business airports by the end of the year."

George said the project is designed to install Aaro high-speed fixed-wireless Internet access at 45 regional airports in 44 Oklahoma communities. The agreement grew out of the Oklahoma Regional Business Airport Summit in November 1-2.

George said a consortium consisting of Aaro, the league, the Oklahoma Aeronautics and Space Commission and various public and private entities was formed to target municipalities, seek funding sources and deploy service throughout the state.

Baker said the consortium's high-speed telecommunications project focuses on closing the Digital Divide between Oklahoma's rural communities and its larger metropolitan areas. The goal of this project is to install broad bandwidth wireless telecommunications services throughout the state, creating a virtual community in which the playing field is leveled between small and large communities, Baker said. "This is a radical leap forward for telecommunications in Oklahoma."

Under last November's agreement, Aaro will provide service in each community, initially to the local regional business airport. With the assistance of the league and the Oklahoma Municipal Service Corp., each municipality will be responsible for redistributing the signal throughout the community using wireless telecommunications equipment.

Price hike notification

Unannounced price hikes in telephone service in Oklahoma would be prohibited by a proposed law that was reviewed Tuesday by a legislative panel.

House Bill 1300 by Rep. Jack Bonny, D-Burns Flat, would require any telephone or telecommunications company to provide its residential customers with written notice at least 30 days prior to implementing any rate increase.

The written notice could be an announcement included in a monthly publication the company mailed along with the customer's bill, or it could be a separate direct-mail piece, HB 1300 provides.

The proposed law would apply to local-exchange companies, long- distance carriers and providers of operator service.

Bonny told members of the House Committee on Energy and Utility Regulation that he would consent to extending the advance notification requirement to any telephone service provider's business customers as well as its residential customers.

Terra to restart plants

Terra Nitrogen Co. of Sioux City, Iowa, on Tuesday said it expects to restart the idle plants at its Verdigris, Okla., facility this week.

Terra's Blytheville, Ark., facility is expected to restart in early March after some equipment is replaced. Terra is a leading manufacturer of nitrogen fertilizer products.

Oklahomans who install a storm shelter would be eligible for a tax exemption if an urban lawmaker's measure gets the green light.

Zenner named interim dean

Art Zenner has been named interim dean of the Business and Information Technology Division at Rose State College.

Zenner has taught management courses at Rose State since 1975. He is the Sam Walton fellow for Students in Free Enterprise at the college. …