Bell Atlantic Predicts Massachusetts Callers Face Dialing Disaster

Bell Atlantic Predicts Massachusetts Callers Face Dialing Disaster

Spetember 11, 1997

Media contacts:

Jack Hoey

(617) 743-3677

BOSTON, MA -- Bell Atlantic predicts a December dialing disaster as

a result of the rejection today by the Department of Public

Utilities of a plan that would have simplified dialing as the

Commonwealth adds two new area codes.

Under Bell Atlantic's simplified dialing plan, callers would have

dialed seven digits to complete all calls within an area code; 1+10

digits would have completed calls everywhere else.

Without the simplified dialing plan, a Massachusetts Department of

Public Utilities order will require customers starting Dec. 1 to know

the new boundaries of four area codes and the exchanges in their

local calling areas. Callers must then choose the right one of four

possible dialing patterns to successfully complete a call.

"The DPU rejected a simple dialing plan in favor of one that's

confusing and frustrating," said William McIntyre, president and CEO

- Massachusetts for Bell Atlantic. "We're stunned that they've made

this decision.

"Customers will have to carry maps and phone books to decipher the

dialing plan. We predicted that this plan would create chaos, and I'm

afraid our worst fears may come true. The uproar in recent weeks over

the area code boundaries was just the tip of the iceberg. Customers

are going to be incensed come December when they start getting

recordings instead of the person they tried to call."

In contrast to the Bell Atlantic simplified plan, the DPU order

requires customers to dial as follows:

- 7 digits for calls within your local calling area in the same area


- Area code + 7 digits for calls within your local calling area but

in a different area code

- 1+ area code + 7 digits for toll calls within the area code

- 1+ area code + 7 digits for toll calls outside the area code

"The DPU has adopted a bureaucratic, anti-consumer dialing plan

rather than one that would actually work," McIntyre said. "Anyone

who thinks this dialing plan is consumer friendly should be required

to go to every town hall, school and senior center across the state

and explain it to customers. We proposed an easy-to-remember plan

that everyone could understand. "

Under the DPU order, more than half of all Massachusetts customers

will now have to contend with new area codes and boundaries, in

addition to a confusing dialing requirement not currently in use.

That new requirement is for ten-digit dialing (area code + 7 digits)

to complete calls inside the local calling area but in a different

area code.

The requirement to dial 10 digits for local calls to a different area

code was originally ordered by the DPU in its effort to reserve "1"

as a toll indicator to precede only those calls for which an

additional charge could apply. However, "1" does not always indicate

a toll call for all Massachusetts customers, such as those with

measured service or certain optional toll calling plans such as

Metropolitan Service and Suburban Service that combine local and toll

calling areas.

Bell Atlantic's simplified dialing plan would have accommodated the

future addition of new area codes, either under a geographic split or

overlay approach. This would have further reduced future disruption

to customers given the growing demand for exchange codes and the

shrinking lifespan of area codes.

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 worlds largest publishers

of directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the

worlds largest investors in high-growth global communications

markets, with operations and investments in 21 countries.