ARLINGTON, VA. -- Competition for local phone service in the mid-Atlantic states became even more evident today, as Bell Atlantic announced a series of agreements to connect its network with that of Teleport Communications Group (TCG). Since the signing of the Telecommunications Act a year ago, Bell Atlantic now has 30 such agreements, and more are on the way.
The latest agreements are between TCG and Bell Atlantic's phone companies in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Bell Atlantic and eight companies have now signed pacts that spell out the terms for interconnecting their networks.
"There should be no question that Bell Atlantic is dead serious about meeting the spirit and intent of the Telecommunications Act. I'm delighted at how far we've come in the past year," said Pat Hanley, president of Bell Atlantic Carrier Services.
The agreements with TCG, which take effect immediately, outline in detail such things as how much one company will pay the other for completing its calls, the printing of directory listings, and how customers will be able to take their phone number with them as they switch from one local phone company to another.
In addition to TCG, Bell Atlantic has comprehensive interconnection agreements with Commonwealth Communications, C-TEC, Eastern TeleLogic, Hyperion, Jones Communications, MFS and WinStar.
Bell Atlantic has also proposed terms and conditions that competing companies must meet to buy services from Bell Atlantic off the shelf without having to negotiate individual agreements. Statements of these "generally available terms and conditions" have been filed with the seven local regulatory commissions in Bell Atlantic's service area.
Under the terms of the Telecommunications Act, Bell Atlantic may seek permission to enter the long-distance business in its service area when it meets a 14-point checklist. Hanley said he expects the company will do so in the next several months.
Bell Atlantic Corp. (NYSE: BEL) is at the forefront of the new communications, entertainment and information industry. In the mid-Atlantic region, the company is the premier provider of local telecommunications and advanced services. Globally, it is one of the largest investors in the high-growth wireless communication marketplace. Bell Atlantic also owns a substantial interest in Telecom Corporation of New Zealand and is actively developing high-growth national and international business opportunities in all phases of the industry.