Bell Atlantic First to Win FCC Approval to
New Yorkers to Get Bell Atlantic
'Surprise-Free' Long Distance Jan. 5
December 22, 1999
NEW YORK -- Bell Atlantic today received federal approval to enter the
long distance market in New York and promised to win over consumers
with "surprise-free" long distance.
The history-making decision by the Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) makes Bell Atlantic the first regional Bell company allowed to
offer long distance service inside its local region.
Bell Atlantic will begin providing long distance to New York consumers
Jan. 5, after the FCC's decision takes effect. The company will launch its
long distance business and unveil the first of many new calling products at
a news conference Jan. 4.
"Eight million New Yorkers -- from Buffalo to the Bronx -- will be
able to ring in the new century with a better choice for long distance from
a company they know and trust," said Ivan Seidenberg, Bell Atlantic
chairman and CEO. "Today, we say to all consumers: We want
your business and we will earn it by delivering a stream of innovative new
products at competitive prices. We plan to set a higher standard that
consumers can expect and our competitors will follow."
Bell Atlantic promised to offer surprise-free long distance -- simple,
straightforward calling plans to residential customers with no monthly
calling plan fees.
"Our research repeatedly shows that residential customers want
simple calling plans without complicated pricing," said James G.
Cullen, Bell Atlantic president and chief operating officer. "That is
exactly what Bell Atlantic will offer."
Some long distance companies have offered their most attractive rates
only to their best business customers. At the same time, some companies
assess higher rates and minimum usage fees if customers don't make
enough calls to qualify for the cheapest calling plans. For example, under
one so-called seven-cents a minute plan, a residential customer who makes
43 minutes of long distance calls a month would actually pay 21 cents a
minute after all the extra fees and charges are included.
"We are putting our best deals and most innovative products on the
table for all customers -- not just the most lucrative business and high-
volume callers," Seidenberg said. "Unlike the other big long
distance companies, we are committed to bringing competition and
customer service to every consumer."
Cullen said that the company expects to win 25 to 30 percent of the $2
billion consumer long distance market in the region in five years,
especially given Bell Atlantic's solid reputation for customer care and its
strong ties to the communities across the state.
The FCC approved Bell Atlantic's application on schedule, following the
Commission's 90-day review process. The 88,500-page document, which
also earned the endorsement of the New York Public Service Commission,
detailed how the company has opened its local markets to competition and
complied with the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
"The FCC's review of this application was thoughtful and thorough,
reflecting the input of both competitors and consumer
organizations," said Seidenberg. "Under the leadership of this
agency and the New York Public Service Commission, a model has been
established that we and other local phone companies can follow in the
future. We expect to move quickly to provide long distance service in
other states so that consumers and businesses in our entire region can
benefit from the value that Bell Atlantic brings."
Note to Editors: Related b-roll will be available via satellite at Telstar 6,
Transponder 8. Downlink: 3860 horizontal; audio: 6.2 and 6.8.
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.