AT&T Front Group Must Be Kidding

AT&T Front Group Must Be Kidding

Latest Smear of Bell Atlantic Would Be Funny if It
Weren't so Wrong

August 19, 1999


Harry Mitchell,

BACKGROUND -- Piling on the foolishness contained in a recent
Allegheny Institute press release, the AT&T sponsored Pennsylvanians for
Local Competition, today issued a tortured news release that tries to
suggest customers have been overcharged by Bell Atlantic.

The following statement should be attributed to Eric Rabe, vice president-
media relations, Bell Atlantic.

AT&T seems to know no limit to its smear campaign aimed at Bell
Atlantic. This latest effort by AT&T's phantom consumer group is

Both AT&T-sponsored groups, the Allegheny Institute and
Pennsylvanians for Local Competition, are wrong on the facts. Consumers
have not been overcharged in Pennsylvania. In fact our rates have not
increased since 1985. Furthermore, it is completely untrue that Bell
Atlantic has "lost" equipment, as these groups charge. No consumers have
been "overcharged."

The fact is that AT&T -- not Bell Atlantic -- has continuously jacked up
rates for consumers least able to pay, those who make few long distance

Just this week, USA Today editorialized on this subject, calling for
"honesty" from AT&T and the other long distance companies. Studying
AT&T's rates for customers who make less than 30 minutes of long
distance calls a month, USA Today reported the average cost for service
exceeds an astonishing 35 cents a minute.

Consumers Union is a well-known and legitimate consumer group. CU
recently studied long distance rates and concluded that customers buying
into the newest and most touted calling plans from the big long distance
companies will actually end up paying more than they would have paid
with no plan at all just a few years ago.

Furthermore, Bell Atlantic has actually been reducing the costs AT&T and
other long distance companies pay to do business in Pennsylvania --
savings that should be passed along to consumers but that are not. In
Pennsylvania alone, Bell Atlantic has slashed access fees for long distance
carriers by more than $73 million over the past three years. Access fees
are the rates long distance companies pay to use the Bell Atlantic network.

What is perfectly clear is that most long distance customers are not
benefiting from competition in long distance because the most able
competitors are being kept on the sidelines. AT&T and its delay tactics
will continue to hold Pennsylvanians hostage.