FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The Regulatory Commission of Alaska will collect testimony Wednesday afternoon over Alaska Communications Systems' decision to not construct new copper wire telephone lines, therefore denying service to new customers.
ACS is being asked to explain its reasoning.
The hearing will be held in Anchorage but the commission also will take public testimony by telephone.
ACS President Wes Carson said his company does not want to build new lines because it does not want to risk what could amount to several million dollars worth of investment. The company believes it cannot recoup the money because it was ordered by the commission to lease its phone equipment to rival General Communications Inc.
GCI can then use the leased equipment to sell telephone service, sometimes at less then what ACS offers. GCI plans to offer service in Fairbanks and Juneau and already has service in Anchorage.
The commission allowed the interconnection between the two companies to increase local competition of telephone service as provided for in the federal Telecommunication Act of 1996.
ACS has complained that the commission order is unfair and has sued in state court.
GCI officials say that ACS is adequately compensated for the use of the phone equipment and that the decision not to build the lines is another example of ACS dragging its feet on leasing to GCI.
Fairbanks area residents have complained to the commission about the ACS decision because they can not get a hard wire telephone line into their homes. The company is offering a wireless service that is not adequate for fax or Internet use, the residents say.
Builders in Anchorage have also complained to the RCA. One claimed it was being denied more than 100 phone lines for a new apartment complex.
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