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SBC Wins Approval to Offer Long-Distance in Kan., Okla.

January 23, 2001|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — SBC Communications Inc. on Monday won federal approval to offer long-distance phone service to consumers in Kansas and Oklahoma, becoming the first local phone company born from the 1984 breakup of AT&T Corp. to offer interstate service in multiple states.

The Federal Communications Commission said the nation's No. 2 local phone company passed a 14-point checklist that requires the company's local networks to be open to competitors before it can sell long-distance.

The company will be able to begin selling the service March 3 and has estimated consumers in Oklahoma spend $220 million a year on long-distance while Kansas residents spend about $175 million annually.

SBC last summer won approval to offer long-distance in Texas and in less than four months has won more than 1 million long-distance subscribers there.

The agency voted to approve the applications Friday, the last day of FCC Chairman William Kennard's reign at the independent agency responsible for regulating and monitoring the telecommunications and cable industries.

FCC Commissioner Michael Powell, a Republican, was appointed Monday by President Bush to succeed Kennard, a Democrat.

The agency's approvals come after SBC said it would cut rates for certain unbundled network elements charged competing carriers to appease concerns raised by the U.S. Justice Department and others.

The cut prompted the FCC to delay when SBC can sell long-distance by 43 days because the new price data were filed that many days late. Thus, the FCC commissioners voted 3 to 2 to delay the company's ability to sell the service by an equal number of days.

Verizon Communications is the only other local phone company to win permission to sell long-distance in one of its home states, New York.

Shares of San Antonio-based SBC closed down 81 cents at $48.88 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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