Bell Atlantic Challenges Long-Distance Giants: Compete in Pennsylvania as You Are in NewYork; The Plan's Just as Good
AT&T, MCI WorldCom Competing for Local Customers in New York While Pennsylvanians Forced to Wait
August 17, 1999
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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Bell Atlantic today challenged giant long-distance companies AT&T and MCI WorldCom to put their marketing where their mouths are in Pennsylvania.
At a news conference in Harrisburg, Bell Atlantic -- Pennsylvania President and CEO Daniel J. Whelan announced his company is offering competitors an innovative plan comparable to one in New York. Under that plan, the biggest long-distance companies are now offering local residential telephone service just across the Commonwealth's northern border.
"This is as sweet a plan as AT&T and the others have in New York, where they now are starting to offer local phone service to consumers after years of complaining and foot dragging," said Whelan.
Early this month, AT&T announced it has begun competing with Bell Atlantic for New Yorkers' home phone service, noting that the conditions in that state "justified such entry." MCI WorldCom has offered local phone service in New York for six months, garnering 138,000 residential customers so far. MCI WorldCom has commended the New York plan for local competition, stating that, if "other states adopt the same standards, (MCI) would roll out local residential services nationwide."
"AT&T and MCI WorldCom have complained that Bell Atlantic isn't willing to agree to the same conditions for encouraging local competition in Pennsylvania that it did in New York," said Whelan. "In fact, we are making an offer that gives our competitors all the benefits they get in New York. Combined with a proposal made earlier this year by Bell Atlantic and 34 other Pennsylvania telecommunications companies, it's a great deal for competitors and Pennsylvanians. We hope this will end more than a year of delays by the big long-distance companies.
"It's time to stop the foolishness and bring full competition to Pennsylvania," said Whelan. "So far it has been a case of 'more is never enough' for these long-distance giants. Well, if New York's plan is good enough for AT&T and MCI WorldCom -- and they're serious about competing for local customers here -- why not accept the New York plan in Pennsylvania?"
Under Bell Atlantic - Pennsylvania's proposal at the PUC, prices for competitors who want to link to Bell Atlantic's network would be cut by more than 16 percent. Long-distance companies would see a $250 million reduction in the access fees they pay to complete calls on Bell Atlantic's network. Rural customers would benefit from a new funding mechanism to ensure affordable local phone service.
For several years, AT&T and MCI WorldCom have engaged in regulatory maneuvers, a distorted advertising campaign targeting Bell Atlantic and other tactics designed to delay full choice for local and long-distance service in all of Pennsylvania. They used similar tactics in New York, but dropped them and began offering local telephone service this year as it became clear that Bell Atlantic soon would be permitted to offer long- distance service there.
Bell Atlantic has successfully completed an intense, third-party test of the computer systems competitors use to order service from Bell Atlantic - New York, moving the company closer to gaining long-distance entry.
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.