Bell Atlantic Asks FCC to Modify Joint Board's Universal Service Recommendations

Bell Atlantic Asks FCC to Modify Joint Board's Universal Service

December 19, 1996

Media contacts:

Michel Daley 202-392-1021


ARLINGTON, Va. - Some of the new recommendations for
preserving low
cost telephone service for rural and poor customers miss the letter
and intent of the new Telecommunications Act, Bell Atlantic told the
Federal Communications Commission [FCC] today.

The company urged the FCC to modify portions of the recent
recommendations by a joint state-federal board studying the protection
of universal service. The board was established following the passage
of sweeping legislation aimed at opening telecommunications markets to

"We're asking the FCC to align the joint board's recommendations
the Telecommunications Act," said HREF="http://www.ba.com/speeches/profiles/eyoung.html">Edward D. Young,
III, vice president
and associate general counsel - Bell Atlantic. "The Act envisions a
reasonably sized federal fund and complementary state funds. The law
also encourages telecommunications providers to contribute fairly. By
adhering to these guiding principles, the FCC will protect affordable
telephone service for all consumers, while meeting the special needs
of schools, libraries and rural health-care facilities."

In a filing submitted today, Bell Atlantic called on the FCC to:

  • Keep the federal universal service fund small. A massive
    fund could rob states of the ability to set up their own programs to
    provide low cost telephone service for the poor and for customers in
    small towns and remote locations. A proposed tax on state
    telephone revenues could force telephone companies to channel money
    to other states, when it's needed most at home.

  • Ensure that all telecommunications companies contribute to
    national fund equally
    . Bell Atlantic believes those
    should be calculated on a company's interstate retail revenues. The
    joint board's proposal for taxing gross revenues shifts the
    obligation of funding universal service primarily to local companies
    - the very companies that most need the fund's support.

  • Protect the consumer. A gold-plated telecommunications
    funded by a large infusion of federal universal service dollars does
    not serve telephone customers' interests. "We need a fund
    keeps local phone prices low and provides basic on-line connections
    to schools, libraries and rural health care facilities,"
    emphasized. "Customers don't want to subsidize frills."

"Our filing offers reasonable, consumer-friendly solutions,"
continued. "The FCC has a golden opportunity to get it right, and
hope it heeds our suggestions."

Bell Atlantic Corporation (NYSE:
BEL) is at the forefront of the new
communications, entertainment and information industry. In the
mid-Atlantic region, the company is the premier provider of local
telecommunications and advanced services. Globally, it is one of the
largest investors in the high-growth wireless communication
marketplace. Bell Atlantic also owns a substantial interest in
Telecom Corporation of New Zealand and is actively developing
high-growth national and international business opportunities in all
phases of the industry.