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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 17, 1996
BELL ATLANTIC, MFS AGREE TO INTERCONNECT NETWORKS
Contracts cover five states and D.C.
Arlington, VA - Bell Atlantic and MFS Communications
Co., Inc., signed
agreements today to interconnect their networks in the District of
Columbia and five of the six states where Bell Atlantic operates .
The three-year agreements open the door for Bell Atlantic's entry into
the multi-billion-dollar long distance business throughout most of its
"We've successfully come to terms on numerous highly complex
And, every step of the way MFS has shown a cooperative spirit. What a
stark contrast to some of our talks with AT&T," said Bell
Chairman James G.
Cullen. Earlier this week Bell Atlantic called on
regulators to intercede in its negotiations with AT&T, claiming
the long distance monolith was purposefully stalling the talks in hopes
of delaying Bell Atlantic's entry into their highly lucrative long
Cullen said the six agreements with MFS meet the 14-point checklist of
the recently passed Telecommunications Act, bringing Bell Atlantic a
step closer to offering long distance in its region.
Already Bell Atlantic and MFS have been exchanging local calls in
Maryland, but the agreements signed today are far broader and will
lead to vastly larger business opportunities for both companies.
The new agreements set the terms for direct connection of the two
companies' facilities, enabling MFS to provide local telephone
service, using its own digital switching and fiber-optics-based
Bell Atlantic and MFS will each provide network signaling to the
other, so that advanced services, like Caller ID, will work for calls
from one to the other. In addition, the agreements enable MFS to use
components of Bell Atlantic's existing network, in combination with
their own facilities, to provide services in areas where MFS does not
have full featured facilities in place.
The MFS agreements are specifically with Bell Atlantic's operating
companies in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia
and Washington, D.C. MFS presently has no service in West Virginia,
Bell Atlantic's seventh jurisdiction.
"These agreements are further evidence that we are absolutely
about opening our markets to competition as soon as possible,"
said. "We look forward to reaching agreements with other local
telephone service competitors."
The recently passed federal legislation states that local telephone
networks must be opened to competition before the regional Bell
companies can provide long distance service within their own service
areas. The companies must fulfill requirements of the checklist on a
The agreements are being filed with the affected state regulatory
commissions. Decisions are expected by mid-October, after which time
Bell Atlantic will apply to the Federal Communications Commission for
authority to offer long distance service in the six affected
The agreements provide detailed blueprints for how the competitors
will interconnect their networks and how they will compensate each
other for their services.
The contracts provide for:
- Reciprocal per-minute charges for the completion of local calls
originated by the other company's customers.
- Customers to switch from one company to the other without having to
change telephone numbers.
- MFS to lease segments of Bell Atlantic's network, where requested.
- The availability of enhanced calling features over either company's
- 911 emergency operator and directory services.
MFS is the second company to sign such interconnection agreements with
Bell Atlantic. Early last month Bell Atlantic-Virginia and Jones
Telecommunications of Virginia signed a three-year pact to
interconnect networks in that state.
Bell Atlantic Corporation (NYSE: BEL) is at the forefront of the new
communications, entertainment and information industry. In the
mid-Atlantic region, the company is the premier provider of local
telecommunications and advanced services. Globally, it is one of the
largest investors in the high-growth wireless communication
marketplace. Bell Atlantic also owns a substantial interest in
Telecom Corporation of New Zealand and is actively developing
high-growth national and international business opportunities in all
phases of the industry.
- Paul Miller, (804) 772-1460