Bell Atlantic Chairman Condemns AT&T's Thanksgiving Day Price Hike
Smith Calls On FCC To Admit More Long-Distance Competitors
December 4, 1996
ARLINGTON, VA - Bell Atlantic Chairman
Smith today joined
in the chorus of outrage over AT&T's Thanksgiving price hike with a
letter of protest to Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) Chairman
Noting one calculation that shows AT&T has raised basic rates 22
since 1994, Smith urged Hundt to give customers genuine competition by
opening long-distance markets as quickly as possible to strong
competitors like Bell Atlantic.
In addition, Smith asked the FCC "to refrain from giving AT&T
other members of the long distance cartel any more price breaks on
access services" they buy from other telephone companies.
"These continuing rate hikes are an outrage because they hit small
customers hardest, the ones with nowhere to turn," Smith further
added. "There's only one way to act in the public interest. Let's
stop these repeated price increases and give customers real choices by
admitting the regional telephone companies into the long distance
Smith added that AT&T has admitted that its rate hikes for small
customers "will help pay for AT&T's array of other services and
expenses, including the heavily advertised flat-rate plan." Smith
further notes that "it is nothing short of astounding to hear
boldly declare that it plans to pay for its new wireless, Internet,
data and local exchange services on the backs of its small long
A chorus of consumer advocates and telecommunications analysts also
has condemned AT&T's Thanksgiving price hike.
Nearly all shared the sentiments of the Consumers Union co-director
who told reporters that AT&T's attempt to sneak a price hike past
customers celebrating a national holiday is "uncalled for." He
"it is astounding in a market supposedly fully competitive that
consumers would get socked with this kind of rate increase.
Obviously, the long-distance market is not competitive."
Newspapers covering the rate increase also noted that it was just one
rung on a long ladder of long-distance price hikes. According to a
recent report in the Wall Street Journal, AT&T has jacked up
more than 20 percent over the past two years.
Smith called on consumers to demand real competition by writing to the
FCC and urging commissioners to admit local telephone companies into
the long-distance market immediately.
"Tell them that you want to see real competition - the kind that
begins with more choices and ends with lower prices - in the
long-distance markets," Smith said.
Address all letters to The Hon. Reed E. Hundt, Chairman, Federal
Communications Commission, 1919 M St. NW., Washington, D.C. 20054
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.