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
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.