AT&T Wants Free Ride on Bell Atlantic Network

AT&T Wants Free Ride on Bell Atlantic

Wants to Slash Funding that Keeps Local Rates Affordable

February 29, 2000


Paul Miller,

Harry Mitchell,

BACKGROUND -- AT&T has filed a complaint urging the West Virginia Public Service Commission to nearly eliminate the charges AT&T pays Bell Atlantic to complete long-distance calls over the Bell Atlantic
network. These "access charges" have helped keep the prices West Virginians pay for local phone service affordable for years. The following statement should be attributed to Gale Given, executive director-
regulatory matters for Bell Atlantic - West Virginia:

"The actual effect of AT&T's complaint would be to line the long-distance giant's pockets with cash at the expense of West Virginians. AT&T pays access charges to Bell Atlantic for the opportunity to complete long-distance calls over Bell Atlantic's local phone network. Local phone networks are very expensive to install and maintain in rural states such as West Virginia.

"This access-charge structure has helped keep local phone service affordable over the years in the Mountain State. AT&T wants the
commission to virtually eliminate these charges.

"Furthermore, the commission and West Virginians should not be lured into thinking that AT&T will pass savings from any reductions in access charges on to consumers. AT&T's track record on this in West Virginia
and elsewhere is dismal. In Pennsylvania, for example, AT&T is enjoying access charge reductions of tens of millions of dollars a year, but consumers in that state haven't seen a penny in savings.

"We hope the commission will see this for what it is - the country's largest
telecommunications firm disguising a self-serving play as a consumer-friendly proposal."