Capitol's telecom carried by cable

Oklahoma's state capitol complex has become the first such state government

facility to be wired by a national cable company for telecommunications

service, according to the company.

Cox Business Services, an affiliate of Atlanta-based Cox Communications

Inc., has connected about a dozen state buildings in Oklahoma City with

upgraded fiber technology to deliver digital voice, data and video services,

including videoconferencing and television.

The infrastructure is more redundant, more reliable and can handle a

great deal more capacity, compared with traditional telecom providers, said

Mollie Andrews, the company's vice president and general manager.

"More than anything [the state government was] concerned about the future

growth," she said. Cox Business Services was already providing data network

services to some of the state's agencies before it was awarded the five-year,

$1.75 million contract earlier this year to enhance the system. The current

system handles an average of about 65,000 calls per hour and has 14,000

subscribers.

"There's approximately 27 trunks — we call them primary rate interfaces

— that we connect to the state," she said. "And it gives them, at any given

time, between 600 to 700 calls can be going on from a state employee to

an outside party. They have unlimited usage from any state employee from

one location of the capital complex to another."

Andrews said the redundant system is designed for dependability. "So

in other words, we don't want there to be a single point of failure," she

said. "We build fiber coming in to one side of their campus, fiber coming

into another so in the event that one were to occur, the customer doesn't

lose service. That's not how [incumbent local exchange carriers] traditionally

do service."

One new feature is caller identification. "Every subscriber on his or

her campus now knows when somebody's calling, who's calling," she said.

Andrews said having Oklahoma state government as a customer would help

the company gain more credibility in the marketplace.

"We just think more and more small and medium businesses and large business

customers will follow the state's lead," she said.

She said recent problems with major telecom providers may even help

Cox and others gain a greater share. "The demise of [competitive local exchange

carriers] has caused almost every business customer to be very cautious

and very suspect," she said.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 opened up the telecommunications

marketplace to cable companies offering broadband and other services.

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