Landmark Agreement Reached on Telephone Service in Rhode Island

Landmark Agreement Reached on Telephone
Service in Rhode Island

Bell Atlantic Customers Would Save $32 Million

Sept. 13, 1999


Lillian McGee,

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Bell Atlantic customers in Rhode Island would
save nearly $32 million if the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission
(PUC) approves two filings that expand local calling areas and reduce
some rates for local phone service.

The PUC today will hold a public hearing to consider a landmark
agreement reached earlier this month between Bell Atlantic and the Rhode
Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers. The plan expands local
calling areas for Westerly and Narragansett customers and includes a
commitment by Bell Atlantic to freeze basic local rates for residential
phone customers for the next three years.

"This agreement assures that Rhode Island customers will continue
to reap the benefits of progressive regulation," said Donna Cupelo,
president and CEO of Bell Atlantic - Rhode Island. "It builds on the
foundation established by the commission, the division and the company
in 1992 when price regulation was first introduced in Rhode Island."

In addition, the commission currently is deliberating a Bell Atlantic filing
which would introduce local calling to Providence for all the exchanges
that do not currently have it and reduce basic local rates in many
exchanges. This plan was filed in May to comply with an order from the

The changes contained in the May filing and the further price reductions in
the new agreement total $32 million in rate reductions over the next three

The agreement reached Sept. 3 includes the following provisions:

  • preserves the five free calls to Bell Atlantic Local Directory
    Assistance currently available for both residential and business
  • establishes a uniform price of $37.30 for the combination of
    local service and Bell Atlantic's Statewide Unlimited Calling
    Plan resulting in rate reductions for most subscribers to the
    popular plan,
  • continues Bell Atlantic's program to help fund Internet access
    for public and not-for-profit K-12 schools and public libraries,

  • continues the company's support for the state's Lifeline
    program providing low-cost local phone service for low-
    income residential customers.

Also included in the agreement are reductions in the rates Bell Atlantic
charges long-distance companies to complete their customers' calls using
Bell Atlantic's network.

For the term of the plan, Bell Atlantic would continue to be regulated on
its rates rather than earnings, and the agreement provides for the company
to continue to maintain high quality service.

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.