'It's Time AT&T Put Its Money Where Its
Bell Atlantic Challenges AT&T to Deliver on Its Share of
$300 Million Windfall in Access Cuts Belongs to Consumers
October 14, 1999
PHILADELPHIA -- Bell Atlantic today challenged AT&T to explain
when and how consumers in Pennsylvania will benefit from the long-
distance/cable giant's share of the $300 million windfall the state Public
Utility Commission (PUC) delivered in its global settlement order.
"It's time AT&T put its money where its mouth is," said
Daniel J. Whelan, president and CEO of Bell Atlantic - Pennsylvania.
"AT&T's cost of doing business is being reduced by the lion's share
of $300 million, and it has yet to say when and how it's going to pass those
savings along to consumers."
Bell Atlantic has been critical of the PUC's decision to give AT&T and
other long-distance companies $300 million in unwarranted and
undeserved access-charge reductions. Bell Atlantic argued that the money
should have gone to rate cuts for the company's Pennsylvania customers
over the next five years as part of a long-standing agreement with the
PUC. Under this agreement, Bell Atlantic has reduced customers' rates
across the board -- some $50 million to date.
"The PUC seems to be counting on AT&T to pass these savings on
to consumers. This may be wishful thinking," said Whelan.
"AT&T's history on access charge reductions is well known -- it
keeps what it can, and when it does cut rates, it does so only for its most
profitable high-use customers."
Access charges represent the price AT&T and other companies pay to use
the local phone network to complete calls. State and federal regulators,
not local phone companies, set the rates.
"It has been almost two months since the PUC decision, and still no
word from AT&T," said Whelan. "The clock is ticking.
"AT&T would rather create a smokescreen of ill-founded legal
claims than answer consumers' simple question: 'How and when are you
going to return my money.' "
Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and
information industry. With more than 43 million telephone access lines
and nearly 10 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.