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Published: Tuesday, 8/17/2004

Telecom expert says industry turbulent

Telecommunications has become on of America s most turbulent businesses in terms of stability and financial success, said Ronda Hartman Fergus , an expert on telecommunications issues and commission member since 1995.

Ms. Fergus spoke at the headquarters of Buckeye TeleSystem Inc. at a celebration marking 10 years in business for the local provider of telephone services for more than 800 area businesses. The company, which plans to start phone service for homes this fall, showed off its headquarters and the millions of dollars in investments it has made since it was formed in 1994.

When the predecessors of SBC Inc. and Verizon Corp. were forced to open up their markets to competition eight years ago, Ms. Fergus said, rivals had a choice of building their own facilities and phone

lines or buying and reselling unused capacity from the traditional

local phone carriers.

Of the 147 firms certified to provide business or residential

service in Ohio, most chose to lease phone lines from SBC,

Verizon, and other local phone companies and hoped federal

regulators would impose cheap lease rates. But the courts have

since decided the traditional fi rms can charge higher rates,

and as a result, some rivals have stopped offering local

phone service.

But Toledo-based Buckeye TeleSystem chose the road less

traveled, Ms. Fergus said.

The company built its own switching center, its own fiberoptic

ring, and provided itself with the freedom to operate and make decisions independent of the traditional phone companies. It was a decision ahead of its time, Ms. Fergus said.

Buckeye TeleSystem is owned by Block Communications Inc., which also owns The Blade.

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