One way or another, the issue of deregulating SBC Communications
in Oklahoma will be addressed during the next legislative session.
Both legislators and regulators hope to be able to consider a study
of the state's telecommunications market before making a decision.
State Rep. David Braddock, D-Altus, sponsored a Senate bill
authored by Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant, during the last
legislative session that would have removed SBC's ability to set
prices for its services from the state Corporation Commission's
oversight. After a contentious battle in the Legislature, the bill
was shelved near the end of the session to allow a task force to
study how the legislation would affect the telecommunications market
in Oklahoma. But in October, the task force recommended that the
commission conduct a study of competitive issues in the
telecommunications market and report their findings to the task
force. Last week, the director of the public utility division of the
commission formally requested such a study.
Braddock anticipates a similar piece of legislation will again be
introduced during the upcoming session.
Commissioner Jeff Cloud, who also served on the task force, said
he has not yet seen a schedule for how soon the study can be
conducted, but was hopeful that the commission would have some
answers for the Legislature on the matter before the end of the
I was under the impression that we're under the direction of
having that back to them this next legislative year, said Cloud. No,
that's not too much time. But I'm assured by experts here at the
commission that it can get done before the Legislature adjourns next
Braddock said it is possible legislators would move ahead with
the legislation even before the commission is able to complete their
We're going to look real hard at the possibility of going ahead
and doing that, said Braddock. The Corporation Commission has been
talking about that, but I don't know where all that is going-And of
course, heck, if they go ahead and strip away the regulations here
pretty soon, that will make any need for a bill moot at that point,
but we'll see. One never knows where the Corporation Commission is
going to go. We'll just have to wait and see.
The commission is currently involved in the discussion on two
fronts. In addition to the study requested by the Task Force on
Deregulation of the Oklahoma Telecommunications Service Provider
Industry, the commission is also considering some proposed rule
changes that would also serve to remove more of SBC's operations
from the commission's oversight. …