Bell Atlantic Raising Price of Local Pay Phone Call to 35 Cents in Virginia

Bell Atlantic Raising Price of Local Pay Phone Call to 35 Cents in West Virginia

Company to Expand Pay Phone Local Calling Areas in State

November 12, 1997

Media contacts:

Jim Smith

212 395-7746

212 395-0500

Paul Miller


CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The price of a local call from a Bell Atlantic

Public Communications pay phone in West Virginia, unchanged since

1985, will increase to 35 cents from 25 cents, the company announced

today. In addition, Bell Atlantic-West Virginia is expanding the

local calling area for calls from Bell Atlantic pay phones throughout

the state, allowing pay phone users to reach more numbers at local


The process of adjusting each Bell Atlantic pay telephone to the new

rate is beginning today and will take a few months to complete. The

enlargement of local calling areas will be phased in over the next


Under FCC rules written to implement the 1996 Telecommunications Act,

the price of local calls was deregulated on Oct. 7 and, since then,

all major independent pay phone providers, as well as GTE, BellSouth,

Southwestern Bell and Pacific Telesis, have begun raising rates to 35


"At 35 cents, the local pay phone call is still one of the best

bargains in any market," said Dennis Bone, president and CEO, Bell

Atlantic-West Virginia. "Since 1985 when the price of a call was last

increased, the price of a cup of coffee has gone up 72 percent and

the average monthly cable TV bill has more than doubled."

Local calling areas were expanded several years ago for residence and

business calling. Pay phones will be changed to have the same local

calling area as residence and business phones. As a result, some

calls from Bell Atlantic pay phones that are now regional toll calls

will soon be local calls, resulting in lower prices.

"Like any competitive business, we need to respond to market

conditions," said Lorraine Chickering, president-Bell Atlantic Public


"We compete with hundreds of other providers for the sites where

customers need pay phones," Chickering said. "We must pay

competitive commissions to property owners to place our pay phones in

their space, whether they are fast food outlets, gas stations, major

airports, or cities responsible for sidewalk phones.

"We also must charge competitive prices to the users of our pay

phones, and the competitive price that is emerging in the market is 35

cents for a local call," she said.

After studying the telecommunications market, Congress last year

confirmed that the pay telephone business is competitive, ordered it

deregulated and required that all direct and indirect subsidies of the

service be eliminated. The goal of Congress was "to promote

competition...and the widespread deployment of pay phone services to

the benefit of the general public," according to the 1996

Telecommunications Act. FCC rules implementing the Act, eliminating

subsidies and deregulating prices took effect in April and October.

Bell Atlantic is also raising the price of a local call to 35 cents in

Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, Delaware, New

Jersey, Vermont and New Hampshire. Coin phone price increases will be

considered in other markets as conditions warrant.

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

5.8 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.