AT&T gets home phone competition
September 18, 2007
After years as the only home phone service in Carson City, AT&T is getting competition.
Charter Communications, which already sells cable and Internet service, is now selling residential telephone service in Carson City and Dayton.
A “bundle” price which includes cable, Internet and phone starts at about $100 a month with unlimited nationwide calling starting about $45 a month. AT&T Communications of Nevada has approximately the same rates for a bundle and home phone service alone, but the company said it’s not worried about Charter’s new service.
“First and foremost, the reality is Charter’s playing catch-up to AT&T,” said Brooke Burgess, a representative with AT&T. “We’ve been offering voice (for a long time).”
She added that AT&T, whose parent company opened in Nevada in 1913, also offers wireless phone service, which Charter does not.
But Rick Hackman, a representative with Nevada’s Public Utilities Commission, said having a new business is good for customers. He said his commission, which certifies utilities before they can start operating, has pushed for less regulation and encouraged the state to pass laws that would make AT&T lower its prices.
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For instance, a bill was signed into law in May that allowed more than one telecommunications provider in certain areas that had before allowed only one.
“The potential for having competition in Carson City has been available for many years,” he said. “It’s just a matter of when the various competitors think they can make money at it and there’s enough of a market for them to make the economic decision to enter.”
“Ideally,” he added, “all of us in this game want to see open competition in the telephone world.”
Anita Lamont, a representative with Gardnerville Charter Communications, said the phone service has been popular since it started about two years ago in other markets because it’s a good value and simple to set up. While AT&T runs its phone service over phone lines, Charter runs its through the same cable lines used for television or Internet.
“It’s interesting that (phone service over cables) is one of the first questions people ask because it’s a difficult concept,” she said. “But I go back to the day when it was a difficult concept for people to understand you were going to provide Internet over the cable lines.”
• Contact reporter Dave Frank at email@example.com or 881-1212.
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