FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 15, 1996
BELL ATLANTIC ASKS REGULATORS TO HELP AT&T SEE
Arbitration requested in four states and D.C.
Arlington, VA -- Bell Atlantic today urged regulators
to order AT&T
to use a little common sense in its demands for connection with the
Bell Atlantic local telephone network. In a move to speed an
agreement, Bell Atlantic called on the commissions in Pennsylvania,
New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., to arbitrate the
company's negotiations with the long distance giant.
"AT&T has poured molasses in the works of this agreement,
huge discounts and ridiculous concessions, all with the single aim of
keeping Bell Atlantic from qualifying to compete in a business AT&T
has dominated for years - long distance service," said "http://www.ba.com/homes/jyoung.html">James R. Young,
Bell Atlantic general counsel. "If AT&T were serious about
negotiating an agreement with Bell Atlantic, we'd have one now."
Young noted that Bell Atlantic and Jones Telecommunications, Inc., of
Virginia were the first to complete an interconnection agreement as
outlined in the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Under the Act, Bell
Atlantic can only offer long distance service after opening the local
phone market to AT&T or other competitors. Interconnection talks are
currently underway between Bell Atlantic and some 30 other companies.
But AT&T has thrown up roadblocks to a quick agreement.
"Would you believe that AT&T started out by demanding that our
technicians carry AT&T signs on our trucks for use only if we happen
to be serving an AT&T customer? We won't be party to such a
masquerade. This is just a sampling of the attitude that AT&T has
displayed throughout much of these talks," Young said.
AT&T is also insisting on huge wholesale discounts of 40-50 percent
buy Bell Atlantic's local phone service for resale. By contrast under
the Bell Atlantic-Jones agreement, the discounts are less than 10
percent. The discounts AT&T demands would price service well below
"AT&T wants us to give away subsidized local retail service. If
had its way, AT&T would be in a position to resell the service to our
customers for less than it costs us to provide it, and AT&T could
still make money."
AT&T insists that Bell Atlantic's network be split into pieces even
though AT&T says it does not want to buy them. "At AT&T
they want a
Cadillac but they want to buy it a fender at a time and at Yugo
prices," Young said.
The two sides are in agreement on roughly 90 percent of the issues.
"AT&T is still out in left field on the few remaining points
to be discussed," Young said.
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.