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Electric Lightwave Inc. has been authorized by the Utah Public Service Commission to start providing a full range of telecommunications services including basic phone service.

For the first time, this will let Utah consumers have a choice of local telephone providers.Electric Lightwave began its headway into the Salt Lake market a year ago and currently is providing business customers with access to long distance carriers. The company has spent millions to lay fiber optic cable along the Wasatch Front.

Electric Lightwave officials said their company's entry into the Utah market is consistent with a growing trend among state regulators to adopt new policies to permit open telecommunications competition. The company currently provides basic phone service in Seattle and has applied for similar authority in Oregon.

It is expected to take Electric Lightwave several months to complete contracts with US WEST Communications that are needed for interlinking phone calls.

ELI, based in Vancouver, Wash., is expected to offer basic service only in 16 exchanges on the Wasatch Front. In addition, the company has no plans to serve residential customers any time soon.

The PSC also was expected to approve a similar request by Phoenix Fiberlink of Utah. The San Rafael, Calif., company, like ELI, has no plans to provide residential service in the near future.

The new companies must negotiate with US WEST about how the companies will use each other's lines and equipment to connect customers. They not only have to work out the mechanics of those connections but the costs.

ELI already offers businesses in Salt Lake City long-distance service, and it has installed fiber-optic cable in several locations. Once it has an interconnection pact with US WEST, ELI will be able to provide customized voice, data and video services over that cable.

US WEST has asked the PSC for permission to change its prices for the services that ELI offers in the communities it serves.

Those exchanges include: Salt Lake City, Murray, Holladay, Cottonwood, Midvale, Riverton, Draper, Kearns, Magna, Bountiful, Farmington, Kaysville, Clearfield, Ogden, Provo and Orem.

Under its PSC approval, ELI must submit a listing of the services it plans to offer in each community and a price list.