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ALABAMA PSC 'OPENS CLASSROOMS TO THE WORLD'

 BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Jan. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Telecommunications will soon play an even larger role in the education process in Alabama, thanks to the Alabama Public Service Commission's (APSC) approval today of a South Central Bell reduced-rate telephone service for schools.
 Called "Classroom Communication Service," the new offering allows schools an economical choice when faced with today's limited resources. It will promote usage of distance learning, a concept which allows teachers to conduct classes in multiple rooms -- or even in different schools -- from a central location. Classroom Communication Service will also allow teachers the opportunity to access various information services databases, thereby enhancing the learning process.
 Neal Travis, president of South Central Bell's Alabama operations, said he's pleased with the new offering.
 "This service demonstrates our commitment to the improvement of public education in Alabama," he said. "We believe that by making it affordable for our schools to use the telephone network for research and instruction, we will be opening up our classrooms -- and our children's minds -- to the world.
 "We once defined learning by what was between the two covers of a book or within the four walls of a classroom," he continued. "With the world of information today's advanced telephone network can bring into the classroom, learning has no limits at all."
 One of the main benefactors of the new service could be rural school systems. Dr. Jack Shelton, director of the Program for Rural Services and Research at the University of Alabama, has been concerned about these schools for some time; his office has helped a number of rural schools implement Audio-Graphics, a method of linking classrooms via a telephone line, using computers, fax and voice transmission. Shelton said the service could begin a trend in education.
 "South Central Bell's education tariff makes it possible for rural public schools to share resources -- such as a Spanish or calculus teacher, for instance -- at low cost," he said. "The capacity of the modern telephone network makes it easier and more cost-efficient to move information rather than people."
 Classroom Communication Service is based on Area Calling Service, which costs less per month than a regular business line and expands the local calling area to a 40-mile radius. In exchange, customers are charged for each call.
 The rate will be $10.44 per month. In addition, a $15 cap will be placed on calls to locations within 22 miles.
 "We hope that the lower rates will encourage many rural communities to consider the new concept of telephone-based teaching," Shelton said. "It has great potential for the re-development of rural communities in Alabama."
 Travis said the service was "just one more step in South Central Bell's ongoing effort to promote quality education in Alabama."
 -0- 1/4/93
 /CONTACT: Bill Todd of South Central Bell, 205-834-9134/


CO: South Central Bell; Alabama Public Service Commission ST: Alabama IN: TLS SU:

BN-RA -- AT015 -- 1438 01/04/93 16:49 EST
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Date:Jan 4, 1993
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