TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ A new telephone provider will begin offering local and long-distance service in Oklahoma next month, according to company officials.
Sage Telecom, Inc., based in Allen, Texas, operates 250,000 customer telephone lines in Texas, Kansas and Arkansas. Sage will begin offering service in Oklahoma and Missouri on Jan. 2.
Dennis Houlihan, president and chief executive of Sage, said the company will offer competition and lower prices to Southwestern Bell customers.
``Switching to Sage is free and easy _ it takes just a few minutes on the telephone,'' Houlihan said. ``And an important issue is that customers who want to change their local telephone company can do so without any changes to their telephone number or telephone lines.''
Sage is a private company that was founded in 1996. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission certified the company to provide local telephone service last May. The company employs about 300 people.
The company offers several calling plans that include 60 free long-distance minutes per month.
``For several years now, customers have been able to change long-distance carriers,'' Houlihan said. ``Only recently have they had the opportunity to choose their local service provider.''
Sage Telecom's Home Choice plan offers unlimited calls anywhere in the customer's local calling area, free Caller ID and 60 free long-distance minutes for $24.90 a month. By comparison, Southwestern Bell offers unlimited calls in the customer's Local Plus calling area for $31.50 per month.
Sage Telecom's Home Choice plan with regional service, now available in Arkansas, enables a customer to call any community statewide, with free Caller ID and 60 free long-distance minutes, for $44.90 a month. Additional long-distance is 7 cents a minute.
Southwestern Bell's Simple Solutions plan includes local service, long-distance service at 8 cents a minute, Caller ID, Call Blocker, Call Forwarding, Call Waiting, Three-Way Calling and several other features for $39.95 per month.
Sage Telecom spokeswoman Nancy Kennedy said the company provides services through a combination of proprietary operating support systems, electronic data interfaces and unbundled network elements provided by Southwestern Bell.