Bell Atlantic Challenges Long-Distance
Compete in Pennsylvania as You Are in New
The Plan's Just as Good
AT&T, MCI WorldCom Competing for Local Customers in
While Pennsylvanians Forced to Wait
August 17, 1999
215-963-6200 or 412-
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Bell Atlantic today challenged giant long-distance
companies AT&T and MCI WorldCom to put their marketing where their
mouths are in Pennsylvania.
At a news conference in Harrisburg, Bell Atlantic -- Pennsylvania
President and CEO Daniel J. Whelan announced his company is offering
competitors an innovative plan comparable to one in New York. Under
that plan, the biggest long-distance companies are now offering local
residential telephone service just across the Commonwealth's northern
"This is as sweet a plan as AT&T and the others have in New York, where
they now are starting to offer local phone service to consumers after years
of complaining and foot dragging," said Whelan.
Early this month, AT&T announced it has begun competing with Bell
Atlantic for New Yorkers' home phone service, noting that the conditions
in that state "justified such entry." MCI WorldCom has offered local
phone service in New York for six months, garnering 138,000 residential
customers so far. MCI WorldCom has commended the New York plan for
local competition, stating that, if "other states adopt the same standards,
(MCI) would roll out local residential services nationwide."
"AT&T and MCI WorldCom have complained that Bell Atlantic isn't
willing to agree to the same conditions for encouraging local competition
in Pennsylvania that it did in New York," said Whelan. "In fact, we are
making an offer that gives our competitors all the benefits they get in New
York. Combined with a proposal made earlier this year by Bell Atlantic
and 34 other Pennsylvania telecommunications companies, it's a great deal
for competitors and Pennsylvanians. We hope this will end more than a
year of delays by the big long-distance companies.
"It's time to stop the foolishness and bring full competition to
Pennsylvania," said Whelan. "So far it has been a case of 'more is never
enough' for these long-distance giants. Well, if New York's plan is good
enough for AT&T and MCI WorldCom -- and they're serious about
competing for local customers here -- why not accept the New York plan
Under Bell Atlantic - Pennsylvania's proposal at the PUC, prices for
competitors who want to link to Bell Atlantic's network would be cut by
more than 16 percent. Long-distance companies would see a $250 million
reduction in the access fees they pay to complete calls on Bell Atlantic's
network. Rural customers would benefit from a new funding mechanism
to ensure affordable local phone service.
For several years, AT&T and MCI WorldCom have engaged in regulatory
maneuvers, a distorted advertising campaign targeting Bell Atlantic and
other tactics designed to delay full choice for local and long-distance
service in all of Pennsylvania. They used similar tactics in New York, but
dropped them and began offering local telephone service this year as it
became clear that Bell Atlantic soon would be permitted to offer long-
distance service there.
Bell Atlantic has successfully completed an intense, third-party test of the
computer systems competitors use to order service from Bell Atlantic -
New York, moving the company closer to gaining long-distance entry.
Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and
information industry. With more than 43 million telephone access lines
and nearly 10 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic
companies are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data
services, market leaders in wireless services and the world's largest
publishers of directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also
among the world's largest investors in high-growth global communications
markets, with operations and investments in 23 countries.