Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commission Hears Demands for Better Rural Phone Service

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commission Hears Demands for Better Rural Phone Service

Article excerpt

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By Ronda Fears Rural Oklahomans want better telephone service, namely a broader toll-free calling base, and feel they have paid enough through the years in long-distance charges to pay for it.

Oklahomans from Cookson Hills to Elgin to Slaughterville to Apache and other areas scattered across the state expressed those views Friday at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

"We have paid through our taxes for satellite service. We have paid through the years for what we're asking for. What we're asking for should already be paid for. We don't want to pay any more," said Thelma Krysinski, a petitioner from Elgin seeking extended area telephone service.

"I'm not worried about the telephone stockholders. We should not be compelled to pad your (telephone company) pockets. This no longer is a luxury; it's a necessity."

A technical conference was conducted on a proposed general Wide Calling Plan for rural Oklahoma that was initiated by the commission. Oklahoma City has a wide calling area and there is a plan in the pike for Tulsa. There are also more than 20 extended area service requests pending at the commission.

In the next six weeks, the scope of rural telephone needs is hoped to be defined more precisely by the corporation commission staff. Written comments will be accepted through Jan. 18.

Other details such as cost can then be addressed, said Larry Schroeder, deputy director of the public utility division at the commission.

"The question we have here is a very broad question," Schroeder said.

"What we don't want is for these decisions to be made in isolation here at the commission."

For now, he said, the objective is to determine exactly what the needs are of different communities. There could be options such as a county-wide calling area where anyone could call the county seat toll-free, or a community-of-interest plan where county lines are disregarded. …

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