RCA battle heats up, spills into Senate committee

Posted: Wednesday, May 21, 2003

The long-running battle between the state's two major telephone companies spilled over into a Senate committee on Tuesday.

The outcome of the most recent flap - just one day before the Legislature was to adjourn - could throw the state's regulatory agency into a winding-down period.

Two Anchorage-based companies, Alaska Communications Systems Inc. and General Communications Inc., are the big players in the battle over the future of the state's regulatory agency.

They've sparred before the Legislature over whether to extend the life of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska, a proposal GCI supports.

ACS has said the commission sets rates for GCI's access to its lines that are below ACS's costs. GCI says the rates are fair, and ACS hasn't gotten anywhere challenging the RCA's decisions in court.

After heavy lobbying, the House approved two bills this week on the future of the regulatory agency.

One measure extends the agency until 2007 but requires it to review its telecommunications regulations. Another measure - supported by ACS - puts into state law several changes on how to set rates and regulate competition.

Both bills remain in the Senate Finance Committee.

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