Bell Atlantic Chairman and CEO Clears the Air on Competition
Smith Asserts Bell Atlantic Is Opening Up Local Markets,
Charges Big Long Distance Companies Refuse to Compete
October 7, 1997
cleared the smokescreen obscuring the telecommunications landscape and
declared that his company remains dedicated to opening its local
market to competitors.
"I brought Bell Atlantic and NYNEX together for the very purpose of
mining the growth opportunities in our rich regional marketplace --
and the only way to do that is by being a full-service, one stop
provider," Smith told an audience at the American Enterprise
In his first major public policy speech since the completion of the
merger, Smith reiterated his commitment to achieving this goal to Bell
Atlantic customers and shareowners, adding that he feels "a personal
sense of urgency to get the job done -- and get it done right."
"Bell Atlantic has more to gain from long-distance entry than any
local telephone company in the country," Smith said. "We are
absolutely committed to local competition as the price we pay for
cracking the long distance market. That's why Bell Atlantic has done
more than anyone else in the country to open our markets to
competition," Smith added.
Bell Atlantic has almost 300 interconnection agreements with
competitors, including AT&T, MCI and Sprint. Competitive local
carriers have already taken a substantial portion of the lucrative
business market. Smith also noted Bell Atlantic's landmark merger
commitments to the FCC "address every one of the concerns expressed by
the interexchange carriers and federal regulators. No other local
company has done this."
Smith reported that Bell Atlantic has more than 1,000 people dedicated
to serving competitors and has spent close to a billion dollars to
open its networks "...which means we've invested more in promoting
competitive local entry in our territory than the biggest
interexchange carriers have in entering it."
Smith asserted that there is growing competition in the local phone
market, in spite of the reluctance of AT&T, MCI and Sprint. "The best
business strategy the IXCs have come up with is to keep Bell Atlantic
in regulatory quarantine -- and the best way to do that is not to
compete for the residential customer at all," said Smith.
Smith noted that "out of the more than 100,000 resale lines sold in the
state of New York as of August, less than one percent -- a mere 700 lines --
were sold by MCI. One small company in Chicago -- USN Communications
-- processes more orders in one hour than AT&T has ordered since the
Telcom Act was passed." In contrast, companies such as Eastern
Telelogic, Teleport, Brooks Fiber and WorldCom are doing business with
Bell Atlantic everyday, according to Smith.
"The plain fact is that the FCC -- its vision clouded by the
diversionary rhetoric of the big interexchange companies -- has been
looking for local competition in all the wrong places," said Smith.
Smith reported that Bell Atlantic has just completed a test of its
operating systems in New York, which showed that Bell Atlantic is
"successfully processing five times the numbers of orders we currently
see from competitive carriers on any given day." Bell Atlantic is
expected to file for long distance entry in New York State with its
Public Service Commission in the coming weeks.
Bell Atlantic Corp. (NYSE: BEL) is at the forefront of the new
communications, entertainment and information industry. In the
mid-Atlantic region, Bell Atlantic's telephone company subsidiaries
are the premier providers 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.