Bell Atlantic First with Long-Term Solution that Lets Customers Keep Their Number when Switching Phone Companies

Bell Atlantic First with Long-Term Solution that Lets Customers Keep Their Number when Switching Phone


Company's Advanced System to Hasten Local Competition, Bell Atlantic Entry into Long Distance

October 30, 1997

Media contacts:

Paul Miller


Harry Mitchell


WASHINGTON - Bell Atlantic today became the first local telephone

company in the nation to offer long-term "local number portability" in

a local switching center. In doing so, the company has taken another

significant step toward opening its local markets to competition and,

as a result, offering long distance service in its region.

Local number portability allows customers who switch local phone

companies while staying at the same location to keep the same phone

number. This new local number portability system is available today

in Bell Atlantic's Gaithersburg, Md., switching center in the suburbs

of Washington, D.C., and it will come on line tomorrow in the

switching center serving part of Philadelphia's Center City.

Long-term local number portability also is expected to begin in the

next few weeks in parts of the New York City metropolitan area.

Bell Atlantic plans to provide long-term local number portability to

each of its 23 major metropolitan areas and additional areas in

phases, starting today and running through the end of next year.

"The entire telephone industry is focused on what we have accomplished

here," said Lawrence T. Babbio, Jr., president and CEO of Bell

Atlantic's Network Group. "This is one of the most complex and

expensive challenges Bell Atlantic has ever undertaken.

"Long-term local number portability will have a profound and

long-lasting impact on every facet of our operation," he added.

Babbio saluted the Bell Atlantic employees who worked on the project,

saying, "I'm proud of each and every person involved in this project.

They not only did what many said could never be done, but they did it

in record time."

Local number portability is one component of a 14-point checklist

established in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Bell Atlantic

currently is satisfying that requirement with a form of local number

portability that uses the company's remote call forwarding service.

This process uses up additional telephone numbers that could be

assigned to other customers. The supply of U.S. telephone numbers is

being used up rapidly as local competition increases and people use

more cellular, fax, modem and extra phone lines.

The new solution Bell Atlantic is deploying does not require the use

of a second phone number and addresses mandates from the Federal

Communications Commission and the Maryland Public Service Commission

for a long-term form of local number portability. Instead of relying

on remote call forwarding, the system uses intelligent network systems

and a remote database. This database stores the "ported" phone

numbers of customers who have changed local phone companies,

as well as "location routing numbers," which are assigned to each

competing local telephone company's switch that handles calls.

Here's how the new local number portability system works:

When Customer A calls Customer B, who has switched local phone

companies, a Bell Atlantic intelligent network signal checks the

database, where it finds that Customer B's phone number is now served

by another local telephone company. The call then is routed via the

appropriate location routing number to the switching center of

Customer B's phone company, and from there to Customer B's phone. And

all this happens in a fraction of a second.

The technology unveiled today is the latest in a long series of steps

taken by Bell Atlantic to open its local markets to competition. In

just 20 months since the signing of the Telecommunications Act, Bell

Atlantic's operating companies have forged nearly 300 agreements with

dozens of competing local phone companies. The agreements allow

competitors to connect with Bell Atlantic's network, and in many cases

to resell Bell Atlantic's local service.

"Bell Atlantic is aggressively moving forward, making our facilities

available for local competitors to enter the marketplace," said Tom

Tauke, Bell Atlantic senior vice president-government relations. "We

have a huge incentive to do so - because it gives us the ability to

enter the $20 billion long distance market in our service area.

That's something our customers want and will benefit from."

The new Bell Atlantic - formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and

NYNEX - is at the forefront of the new communications, information and

entertainment industry. With 40 million telephone access lines and

5.5 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 21 countries.