Bell Atlantic Calls '1-Plus' Proposals From MCI, AT&T Unfair
Long Distance Giants Would Gain Advantage
While Dragging Feet on Local Phone Competition
September 1, 1998
BACKGROUND: MCI and AT&T have urged the Virginia State
Corporation Commission to adopt easy-access dialing (1-plus dialing) for
regional toll phone calls before Bell Atlantic - Virginia is allowed to offer
long distance service. The following response should be attributed to
Hugh Stallard, president & CEO, Bell Atlantic - Virginia:
"MCI and AT&T are insisting on a practice that is patently unfair. They
know it, and the State Corporation Commission has said in the past that
it's unfair. That's why the commission has not required Bell Atlantic -
Virginia to give companies like MCI and AT&T one-plus access for
regional toll calls.
"Bell Atlantic should not be forced to offer one-plus access on these calls
until we're permitted to compete against the likes of MCI and AT&T in the
long distance business. To do so any sooner would tilt the competitive
playing field decidedly in the direction of the long distance companies.
"MCI and AT&T downplay the fact that the regional toll market in
Virginia is open to competition today. MCI, AT&T and many other
companies can, and do, compete with Bell Atlantic for regional toll
business. Bell Atlantic, on the other hand, is prohibited from offering long
distance service until it has made its local telecommunications network
available to competitors. And we're doing just that.
"MCI and AT&T note that other local telephone companies in Virginia
now provide 1-plus access for regional toll calls, but they fail to mention
that these companies are free to compete in the long distance business.
Once Bell Atlantic can also do so, we'll offer 1-plus access as well.
"In addition, MCI recklessly claims that Bell Atlantic's position on this
issue is anti-competitive. The truth is that Bell Atlantic has opened its local
markets to a wide range of competing telecommunications companies and
has signed over 70 agreements in Virginia with competitors, including
MCI, to connect our networks.
"Many of these companies are actively competing against us today, but not
MCI or AT&T. Why? Because these companies know that their entry into
the local phone business will most assuredly tear down the barriers that
keep Bell Atlantic out of their cozy, lucrative long distance empire."