03.07.2000Corporate

Bell Atlantic Chief Urges Supreme Court to Move Telecom Competition, Economic Progress Forward in Pennsylvania


Bell Atlantic Chief Urges Supreme Court to Move Telecom Competition, Economic Progress Forward in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania CEO Believes Justices Will See 'Merits of Case,'Let Regulators Decide on Global Telecom Proposal


March 7, 2000





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contact:

Harry Mitchell,
304-344-7562


HARRISBURG, Pa. - A progressive proposal aimed at jump-starting competition in the Commonwealth's local and long-distance telephone markets and stimulating economic
development should be returned to the Public Utility Commission (PUC) for consideration, Bell Atlantic's Pennsylvania chief told an audience of economic development officials today.

"This progressive alternative is critical to the future of telecommunications competition in Pennsylvania," said Daniel J. Whelan, president and CEO of Bell Atlantic - Pennsylvania. "I am confident the state Supreme Court will recognize the merits of this case."

Whelan, in a speech to the Pennsylvania Economic Development Association (PEDA) in
Harrisburg, noted that pro-competitive approaches such as the global telecommunications proposal offered by Bell Atlantic, several competitors and others will help fuel the red-hot engine driving the growth of e-business in the Commonwealth.

The PUC last month asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to overturn a lower court decision and return the global telecommunications case to the Commission. The Commission then would be able to consider a global settlement proposal by Bell Atlantic, Sprint, GTE Conectiv
Communications, CTSI, RCN, NAS, the state Office of Small Business Advocate and other
consumer groups.

Most significantly, the global proposal offers consumer and business savings for local telephone service, fosters competition in rural areas and forces long-distance giants AT&T and MCI WorldCom to start serving local residential customers now - initiatives all important to the growth of the state's economy.

Telecommunications Critical to Pennsylvania's Economic Prosperity

Whelan added that Bell Atlantic, while shackled by outmoded regulation, is proud of its leading role in creating the telecommunications infrastructure that will attract new industry and dot.com
companies alike.

"The numbers don't lie," Whelan said. "Two billion dollars in new network investment in 1998 and 1999 throughout Pennsylvania. A 92-percent increase in fiber-optic cable deployment in the past four years. And every one of our Pennsylvania switching facilities will go digital this year."

Whelan noted this infrastructure will help advance Gov. Ridge's Select Sites and Select Tech Sites program in the Commonwealth, an initiative that helps communities attract new jobs by identifying locations for technology-intensive businesses. The success of this effort is linked to PEDA's strong commitment to the program.

Whelan pointed out that the need for telecommunications infrastructure and bandwidth will continue unabated in the 21st century as demand for data capacity continues to double every 90 days and millions in venture capital dollars pour into the region to fund new dot.com businesses.
He added that a speedy decision by the high court and the PUC's adoption of the global
settlement proposal is particularly important to the future of the economy now.

"We're still stymied by our opponents and by regulation designed for an industry that no longer exists - stand-alone voice communications," Whelan said. "Government can no longer insist on exhuming old regulatory models - models that belong in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. They won't work for you, the champions of economic development in the Commonwealth, and they won't work for the businesses that literally are sharing information at light speed."

Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and information industry. With more than 44 million telephone access lines and more than 12 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.