GTE-led consortium begins first phase of PRTC transition by designating Jon Slater president and CEO upon close of sale; announces strategy to assist Puerto Rico's economic development and technological

IRVING, Texas - As the first major step in a long-range plan to speed the deployment of state-of-the-art telecommunications technology in Puerto Rico, a GTE-led consortium today designated Jon E. Slater to become president and CEO of the Puerto Rico Telephone Company (PRTC) upon FCC approval of the sale, expected in the first quarter of 1999. Until then, current president Carmen Ana Culpeper will continue to oversee PRTC's day-to-day operations.

In July, a GTE-led consortium submitted a winning bid for a majority stake in PRTC. As part of the consortium's plan, Slater, 52, announced details of GTE's promised $1 billion infrastructure investment and a program to designate Puerto Rico as an economic Region of Choice.

GTE to Invest $1 billion in Infrastructure

When the sale was announced in July, GTE made a commitment to invest more than $1 billion over the next five years in developing PRTC's infrastructure. The single largest category of investment will be upgrades to the network, totaling approximately $300 million. This includes deploying additional fiber and facility management to shorten service-delivery times and reduce service interruptions.

Another $170 million will be dedicated to wireline growth, which will encompass switch expansion and distribution capacity to handle increasing volumes of telephone traffic.

Other significant targets for investment include upgrading PRTC's data network (approximately $25 million); improving public phone service (approximately $30 million); and expanding and enhancing wireless facilities and services (approximately $60 million). The remainder of the investment will go to improving other facilities and equipment and responding to unanticipated demands for capital

Puerto Rico Designated a Region of Choice

As part of its commitment to help stimulate Puerto Rico's economy, GTE will bring to the island its nationally recognized Region of Choice program. Region of Choice is a cooperative public/private effort and marketing tool designed to recruit new companies to the area, particularly those in high-tech or telecommunications/data-intensive industries. More than 55,000 jobs in 22 states have been created over the past three years as a result of the program.

Slater Brings Extensive Telecommunications Experience to PRTC

Slater, who most recently served as vice president - operations support for GTE Wireless in Atlanta, has more than 25 years of telecommunications experience with GTE. His many career accomplishments include serving as president of GTE Wireless' largest and most profitable area -Texas - from 1993-96 and successfully integrating the former Contel's New Mexico wireless operations into GTE Wireless. Throughout his career, he has been recognized for improving customer service, enhancing quality and deploying leading-edge technology.

The GTE-led consortium's winning bid was accepted at more than $433 million for a 51 percent-plus-one-share stake in PRTC after the payment of a $1.565 billion dividend to the Puerto Rico Telephone Authority. Banco Popular, a local bank holding company and GTE's partner, will acquire at close of the sale at least a 5 percent interest from the shares GTE has agreed to buy.

Puerto Rico Telephone Company is the principal subsidiary of the Puerto Rico Telephone Authority. It is the island's largest provider of telecommunications services to both the business and consumer markets, including local exchange, long distance, wireless and Internet access services. PRTC serves more than 1.3 million access lines, more than 155,000 cellular subscribers and more than 237,000 paging customers. In 1997, PRTC reported assets of $2.4 billion, with operating income of $242.2 million and operating revenues of $1.2 billion.

With 1997 revenues of more than $23 billion, GTE is one of the world's largest telecommunications companies and a leading provider of integrated telecommunications services.