Bell Atlantic-GTE Merger Would Expand Local Calling Areas throughout Virginia
Virginians Could Save Millions Annually
February 4, 1999
Paul Miller, Bell Atlantic,
RICHMOND, Va. -- Upon completion of their merger, Bell
Atlantic and GTE will begin implementing a plan to expand local calling
areas for many Virginians.
"We intend to offer local calling to GTE exchanges in Virginia that
are contiguous to our exchanges once our merger is completed," said Hugh
Stallard, president and CEO of Bell Atlantic - Virginia.
"GTE also plans to implement the same contiguous calling concept
within our service areas in Virginia, both for calling to Bell Atlantic's
customers in Virginia and between our own customers, once the merger is
concluded," said GTE Regional President Jim Diaz.
The joint plan would result in savings for many Bell Atlantic and
GTE telephone customers in the state, since calls between the companies'
contiguous areas would no longer involve either long distance or Extended
Area Calling charges. The companies estimate the calling plan would
reduce their revenues by more than $20 million a year.
Under the plan, GTE customers in areas such as Smithfield and
Franklin, for example, would be able to call the Norfolk-Virginia Beach
area without long distance or measured charges. Princess Anne and Great
Bridge customers would have local calling to the Peninsula. Likewise,
Bell Atlantic customers would be able to call back locally to these areas.
Additionally, for example, GTE customers in northern Virginia,
including Manassas, Woodbridge, and Stafford, would be able to make
flat-rate local calls to Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax.
This local calling expansion would affect more than a million Bell
Atlantic and GTE customers in Virginia who place calls over 367 calling
routes. A number of those routes, because they cross regional calling area
boundaries created by the Federal government, will require approval from
the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
"There will be many benefits to customers from this merger," Diaz
said. Stallard added that the expanded local calling areas "will be one of
the earliest examples that customers will notice in the months after our
parent companies are merged."
The proposed merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, announced last
July, is currently under review by regulators in several states, including the
Virginia State Corporation Commission. To date, 23 states have
determined that all requirements have been met for the two companies to
merge or have decided not to review the transaction because of the lack of
jurisdiction. The transaction is also being reviewed at the federal level by
the FCC and the Department of Justice.
Immediately after the merger closes, Bell Atlantic and GTE would
begin the process of implementing the expanded calling areas plan,
completing it statewide within about 18 months.
"Our customers want to be able to make local calls to neighbors,
their local schools, county offices and their work places. They've been
telling us that, and in 1994 Bell Atlantic - Virginia responded to their
concerns," Stallard said. "This is our guidepost for all of our local calling
plans, and when these plans are fully implemented, it will be the guidepost
for GTE in Virginia as well."
In 1994, Bell Atlantic - Virginia eliminated all long distance
charges on calls between virtually all contiguous Bell Atlantic exchanges,
saving customers over $23 million a year. As a result, numerous long
distance routes in the state became parts of local calling areas, including
the heavily used route between the Virginia Peninsula and Norfolk-
For its part, GTE implemented optional local calling plans (LCP)
for some 300,000 GTE customers during 1998, giving them new choices
of local calling areas and rates.
"What we are announcing today will further expand local calling,
providing customers larger calling areas on a flat-rate basis and additional
savings," said Diaz. "It is a natural extension of the merger of these two
Bell Atlantic - Virginia serves 3.5 million telephone access lines in
roughly one-third of Virginia's geography. GTE, the state's second largest
local telephone company, serves 745,000 access lines.
Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and
information industry. With more than 42 million telephone access lines
and 8.6 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.
GTE is one of the world's largest telecommunications companies
and a leading provider of integrated telecommunications services. In the
United States, GTE provides local service in 28 states and wireless service
in 17 states; nationwide long distance and internetworking services
ranging from dial-up Internet access for residential and small-business
consumers to Web-based applications for Fortune 500 companies; as well
as video service in selected markets. Outside the United States, the
company serves more than 7 million telecommunications customers.