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Oklahoma Corporation Commission approves limited rule changes for telecom companies

Commissioners disagreed over proposed rule revisions for several telecom programs but eventually approved some minor changes in a contentious meeting Tuesday.
by Paul Monies Published: March 5, 2014

Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners approved minor changes in the rules governing telecom companies in a contentious meeting Tuesday.

Commissioners Dana Murphy and Bob Anthony clashed over several proposed changes to the rules offered by the commission’s public utility division.

Much of the disagreement was over how much time the commission has left to issue new rules, which are due to the Legislature and Gov. Mary Fallin for their approval by an April 1 deadline.

After a two-hour meeting, commissioners approved a change in the definition for nonprofit hospitals eligible for broadband service subsidies from the Oklahoma Universal Service Fund.

The special universal service fund share of that program has grown to $24.5 million, up from $8.7 million in 2008. Money for the subsidy comes from fees added to telephone customer bills.

The commissioners scrapped plans for additional paperwork requirements for companies providing Lifeline telephone service for low-income Oklahomans. They decided not to change a formula to determine how much a telecom company should contribute to the Oklahoma Universal Service Fund. Commissioners also declined to add prepaid wireless providers to the types of telecom companies contributing to the fund.

Anthony said he wasn’t happy that staff at the public utility division offered rule revisions just before the meeting. Murphy said some of the changes that had consensus should have been kept after months of technical conferences and meetings leading to the proposed rules.

“Some of us took the time to come to all the meetings and listen in on all of it,” Murphy said. “It just seems remarkable to me that at the last minute, all of this has to be just undone. ... This is not the way I think rule makings should be done or considered when there’s been lots of effort put into it.”

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by Paul Monies
Energy Reporter
Paul Monies is an energy reporter for The Oklahoman. He has worked at newspapers in Texas and Missouri and most recently was a data journalist for USA Today in the Washington D.C. area. Monies also spent nine years as a business reporter and...
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