GCI seeks to offer local phone service in 10 towns

PHOTO/Lisa Seifert/For the Journal
General Communication Inc. said it has filed a request with Alaska Communications Systems to provide local telephone service in 10 communities also served by ACS.

GCI reported Nov. 29 its plan to serve Delta Junction, Fort Greely, Homer, Kenai, Kodiak, Nenana, Ninilchik, North Pole, Seldovia and Soldotna. GCI said service could begin to some communities by fall 2003.

The company also stated that the announcement followed a ruling on local phone competition earlier that week. Alaska Superior Court Judge John Reese upheld the Regulatory Commission of Alaska’s decision to allow local competition in most of ACS’ service areas, GCI said.

ACS is required to negotiate an interconnection agreement to allow GCI and other telecommunications providers to serve these communities, GCI officials said.

GCI began local phone service in Fairbanks in June, said David Morris, GCI public affairs manager.

GCI has provided local phone service in Anchorage for four years.

The battle for local service in Fairbanks, as well as Juneau, has been brewing for several years.

The problem for phone competition in Fairbanks and Juneau stems from the Telecommunications Act’s rules for competitive markets, which are chiefly directed at urban areas. Only Anchorage is defined as urban.

A decision on local phone service in Fairbanks has been before the Alaska Public Utilities Commission, reorganized in 1999 as the RCA, as well as in the courts and before state lawmakers as a bill.

New RCA commissioners tackled the issue during their first month in office. They later ruled in favor of allowing competition in the Fairbanks and Juneau markets, although ACS appealed the decision.

12/09/2001 - 8:00pm