JEFFERSON CITY - AT&T hopes to offer local phone services to Columbia residents by the end of this year if the Missouri Public Services Commission approves the company's rates and an agreement to work in conjunction with GTE. Right now, Columbians are offered only GTE's services.
If agreements are made with GTE and approved by the state, Columbians could have access to MCI as well.
The Missouri Public Services Commission took the first step in implementing federal and state telecommunications legislation designed to create competition in local telephone markets. Telecommunications legislation was passed by the Missouri General Assembly last year.
PSC granted permission to MCI and AT&T to negotiate an "interconnection agreement" with GTE. When an agreement is reached and rates and services are determined, PSC must approve.
"(The interconnection agreement) spells out the terms in which we'll provide services in GTE territory and interconnect their system and our system," said AT&T state director for government relations Steve Webber.
Webber said AT&T will be combining local telephone lines with entertainment services and internet packages.
"I am not sure to what extent employees will be based in Columbia," Webber said. The AT&T local rates in Columbia will be comparable to those now offered by GTE, Webber said. But, they are yet to be determined.
The spokespersons at MCI and GTE were unavailable for comment.
"MCI posesses the technical, financial and managerial resources and abilities to provide basic local telecommunications services," said PSC spokesman Kevin Kelly.