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Alltel Expands Local Plans; SBC Looks at LD Service.

Alltel Corp. last week laid out its 2000 agenda for offering local telephone service in 17 new cities, including five in Arkansas.

The Little Rock-based communications company says this year it will add Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville and Conway to the five Arkansas cities where it started offering local service in 1999. Customers in those cities are able to bundle communications services -- wireless, home phone, long-distance, Internet and paging -- on one bill through Alltel.

"We have promised to bring competitive service to our wireless markets, and we are fulfilling that promise state by state, city by city," says Kevin Beebe, group president of Alltel Communications.

In September 1999, the company started offering local service in Little Rock, North Little Rock and Sherwood -- the company's first residential pitch in an area where it was not the main provider, taking on regional Bell company Southwestern Bell. Alltel later made service available in Jacksonville, Cabot and Russellville, where it faces a different incumbent provider, GTE Corp.

At the same time, Alltel has been adding other cities across the region in its operating area. By the end of 2000, the company says it will be offering local services in 43 cities across 11 states in the southeast and midwest United States. With its wireless, paging, Internet and other services, Alltel now has more than 8 million communications customers in 25 states.

In a related story last week, SBC Communications Inc., parent company of Southwestern Bell, applied to the Federal Communications Commission for permission to offer long-distance phone service in Texas. Southwestern Bell officials have said getting approval in Texas would clear the way to seek long-distance approval in other states it serves, including Arkansas.

The regional Bells were prohibited from entering the long-distance business, which they view as the final piece of the puzzle for offering complete bundled services to customers, by the 1996 Telecommunications Act. The measure said the regional Bells couldn't offer long-distance until they proved they had opened their local markets to competition.

Late last year, Texas utility officials agreed SBC met an long-distance checklist and recommended FCC approval. The company would have to meet the same requirements in Arkansas and obtain approval from the state Public Service Commission and then the FCC.
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Comment:Alltel Expands Local Plans; SBC Looks at LD Service.
Author:Parham, Jon
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 17, 2000
Words:372
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