Bell Atlantic Responds to Pennsylvania State Senate Committee Action on Telecommunications Bill

Bell Atlantic Responds to Pennsylvania State
Senate Committee Action on Telecommunications Bill

PUC Appropriate Forum for Network Modernization Issues

May 4, 1999


Sharon Shaffer,
215-963-6200 or 412-633-5574

Harry Mitchell,

BACKGROUND -- The Pennsylvania State Senate
Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee today voted
out of committee one of three bills specifically crafted to put Bell Atlantic
at a marked disadvantage in the increasingly competitive Pennsylvania
telecommunications market. The following response should be attributed
to Daniel J. Whelan, president and CEO, Bell Atlantic -

We're encouraged that the committee did not take up the bills to block the
Bell Atlantic-GTE merger and require Bell Atlantic to establish separate
retail and wholesale subsidiaries. These bad bills would benefit only
AT&T, MCI WorldCom and others, whose mission is clear: Wage an all-
out war to protect their own narrow business interests by hamstringing
Bell Atlantic's ability to compete.

However, we remain troubled by Senate Bill 669. We agree with many
committee members who noted in this morning's meeting that voting out
the bill is premature. The Public Utility Commission (PUC) is the
appropriate forum to address such matters as network modernization

The General Assembly in 1993 empowered the PUC to ensure that
Pennsylvania's telecommunications infrastructure is state-of-the-art
throughout the commonwealth. The commission also was charged with
protecting basic local exchange rates. In exchange, the commission has
the authority to implement alternative forms of regulation of
telecommunications companies.

Bell Atlantic - Pennsylvania and the commission agreed to such a plan in
1994-95. Since then, basic local rates have been protected, and Bell
Atlantic actually has reduced rates every year. These reductions will
return a cumulative total of more than $120 million to our Pennsylvania
customers by the end of this year.

Bell Atlantic is accelerating the modernization of its Pennsylvania
network, with specific requirements and deadlines. In fact, last year we
invested approximately $18 million a week in our Pennsylvania network.

Bell Atlantic has kept its promise, meeting or exceeding every
commitment in its network modernization plan. And we will continue to
deliver on our promise to Pennsylvania in the future.