C Spire wants AT&T state contract made public

Details of the state’s multi-million dollar, 12-year deal with BellSouth/AT&T for landline and internet service have been secret since 2006, when a Hinds County judge issued a protective order.

But competitor Cellular South Inc./C Spire says contract and transparency reform passed by the Legislature this year should prompt the release of BellSouth’s pricing and other details to allow fair competition for a new contract in late 2017 or early 2018. Cellular South currently holds the state contract for wireless phone service.

The stakes are high. One state official estimated the BellSouth contract is worth more than $30 million a year, counting local governments piggybacking on the state’s contract.

The two squared off in Hinds County Chancery Court on Wednesday and are awaiting a judge’s ruling.