Long Distance Companies Confirm 'Bandwidth Famine' in West Virginia

Long Distance Companies Confirm
'Bandwidth Famine' in West Virginia

They Offer Too Little, Too Late, Bell Atlantic Tells FCC

August 25, 1998


Paul Miller,

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Too little, too late. That was Bell Atlantic's
assessment of claims made by long distance companies that they are
unclogging the telecommunications bottleneck at West Virginia's borders.

Bell Atlantic's comments came in a filing with the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) Friday in response to proposals by the long distance

In July, Bell Atlantic urged the FCC to allow it to furnish high-speed
computer-to-computer lines to link West Virginia to the outside world.

"There is a genuine bandwidth famine at West Virginia's borders. The long
distance companies even acknowledge that. But, their response to the crisis
only amounts to a promise of a single relief ship," said Dennis Bone,
president and CEO of Bell Atlantic - West Virginia.

Today Bell Atlantic is not allowed to provide high-speed data services
across long distance boundaries, for example, between Charleston and
Columbus, Morgantown and Pittsburgh or even Charleston and
Morgantown. Long distance companies are permitted to handle those
transmissions, but their facilities haven't kept pace with customer demand.

Bone likened the situation to six-lane expressways in West Virginia feeding
into two-lane country roads at the state's borders.

Sprint conceded in its filing with the FCC that it had "capacity constraints"
for high-speed Internet backbone. MCI said it had "no excess capacity
available" and that there was at least a temporary exhaustion of capacity in
West Virginia.

Long distance giant AT&T has come up with only a single high-speed
circuit that it can now make available.

Bell Atlantic provided evidence to the FCC that AT&T has struggled to
provide high-capacity bandwidth in West Virginia. Earlier this year, for
example, AT&T delayed for a month providing a circuit to connect
Charleston and Clarksburg for state government.

In the past several weeks, MCI and Sprint informed a new business
prospect that they did not have sufficient high-speed facilities to serve its
proposed new teleservices center in Clarksburg. Meanwhile, AT&T had
still not provided high-speed connections for another call center in
Clarksburg more than six weeks after the center's scheduled opening.

"AT&T and the other long distance companies talk a good game, but their
inaction speaks louder than words. We're in the midst of a
telecommunications crisis, and Bell Atlantic is in the best position to
resolve that crisis," Bone said.

The state of West Virginia has undertaken some far-sighted initiatives to
bring the 21st century to its K-12 schools, universities and state government
agencies, but all West Virginians will be at a disadvantage if connections to
the rest of the world don't keep pace.

Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and information
industry. With more than 41 million telephone access lines and more than
seven 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.