Be Wary of Service Comparisons Between Major Local Telephone Companies

December 16, 1996

CONTACT: Eric Rabe of Bell Atlantic, 215-963-6531, or

e-mail, rabe@ba.com, or Susan Kraus of NYNEX, 212-395-0500,

or e-mail, notes.skraus@

Be Wary of Service Comparisons Between Major Local Telephone Companies

Various news accounts have cited a Federal

Communications Commission survey of the quality of local

telephone service, and have drawn conclusions about the

relative quality and long-term trends in the service of Bell

Atlantic and NYNEX.

Some opponents of the Bell Atlantic -- NYNEX merger

have cited this study as well.

News editors should be aware of a basic problem

with drawing comparisons from the FCC survey results:

The FCC itself notes that the findings should not

be used to compare the service of one company to another's

because the companies use different standards when they make

their reports to the Commission. Furthermore, the FCC warns

that the data are not even reliable for a single company

over time because the companies have changed survey

techniques and the questions themselves.

Here are some of the disclaimers from the preface

of the FCC's "Update on Quality of Service for the Local

Operating Companies" (March 1996):

-- Maximum and minimum values ... suggest possible

internal differences in data collection and processing (page


-- In evaluating the data one should first note

that the FCC itself does not impose standards ... one should

be cautious in making premature judgments (page 1O).

-- One should be aware of the potential pitfalls

in using of (sic) the quality-of-service data presented here

(page 13).

-- ... Although the Commission has attempted to

standardize the data requirements among reporting companies,

one should not be lulled into the assumption that comparable

data items for different companies are exactly the same.

Different companies may have different procedures for

collecting and presenting the data that may affect the

quality and meaning of the data provided to the

Commission... caution should be exercised when attempting to

make direct comparisons ....

Relating to this is the problem of continuity of

measurement ... the companies themselves periodically wish

to change their internal measurement procedures from which

regulatory data are drawn, adding difficulty to long-term

measurement (page 15).

If the FCC cautions against the comparability of

the data in its own service quality report, what's a

journalist to do? There are other, independently conducted

surveys that go directly to customers to measure their

perceptions of products and services, asking them a standard

set of questions.

"Fortune" reported on one such survey in its

December 11, 1995 issue.

Referring to "one of the most comprehensive

customer satisfaction studies ever done," the article,

Americans Can't Get No Satisfaction, discussed the findings

of the American Customer Satisfaction Index, a joint project

of the University of Michigan business school and the

American Society for Quality Control. According to Fortune

"It is based on a random sample of the actual users of 3,900

products and services ... statistically significant and

representative of national trends ... Roughly 30,000 people

participated in the telephone surveys in each of two years;

every company was assessed on its products and services

around 250 times ... Each score is a weighted average

derived from an econometric model of consumers' responses to

17 questions rated on a scale of one to ten ...."

For all products and services, the survey found

that the 1995 national satisfaction average was 73.7, down

1.1 percent from 1994. For the record, these were the

results for local telecommunications service:

Bell South83No change
Bell Atlantic81+1.3%
SBC80No change
NYNEX79No change
All Companies78-1.3%
Pacific Telesis78-3.7%
US West76-1.3%

NYNEX is a global communications and media

corporation that provides a full range of services in the

northeastern United States and high-growth markets around

the world, including the United Kingdom, Thailand,

Gibraltar, Greece, Indonesia, the Philippines, Poland,

Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The corporation is a leader

in telecommunications, wireless communications, directory

publishing and video entertainment and information services.

NYNEX is also managing sponsor of FLAG -- Fiberoptic Link Around

the Globe -- the world's longest undersea fiber optic

communications cable.

FAX copies of recent NYNEX news releases are

available free of charge, 24 hours a day. Call

1-800-331-1214 and an automated system will provide