KETCHIKAN (AP) -- A second telecommunications company is attempting to enter the Ketchikan market in competition with the city-owned phone utility.
Alaska Power and Telephone sent a letter to Ketchikan Public Utilities and requested that the two utilities begin ''good faith negotiations'' regarding issues that would allow the companies to connect networks.
KPU has asked APT to withdraw that request. The request ''sets in motion a series of events that will create a no-win situation for both companies,'' wrote KPU Telecommunications Division Manager Leroy Pilant in a memo to KPU General Manager Karl Amylon.
APT also wants to remove Ketchikan's rural exemption, which protects the utility from competition. Rural exemption issues are decided by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska.
Pilant estimated that a dispute over removing the rural exemption would cost up to $400,000 for each company. Additional costs for conditioning KPU's network could be as much as $250,000, and if mediation is needed during negotiations, that could tack on another $200,000, Pilant said in his memo.
Pilant said he was disturbed by APT's letter.
''This action by AP&T, to prey on a fellow rural (telecommunications company), will definitely be a wake up call to the entire industry,'' Pilant wrote.
Michael Garrett, vice president of telecommunications at AP&T, told the Ketchikan Daily News that entering the Ketchikan market is the next obvious step for a company that services several Southeast Alaska communities.
''We think that the market in Ketchikan is a sophisticated market that has a lot of users and businesses and is a hub for Southeast,'' Garrett said. ''We just want to give the people in Ketchikan an alternative.''
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