Bell Atlantic Completes Conversion that Lets Marylanders Keep
Their Number when Switching Phone Companies
First Company with Statewide Long-Term Local Number Portability
May 19, 1998
BALTIMORE -- Bell Atlantic - Maryland is the first local telephone
company in the nation to offer all its customers long-term "local number
portability," or the ability to switch local telephone companies and keep the
same phone number.
The conversion of the company's 257 switching offices to provide long-
term local number portability further opens Bell Atlantic's local markets to
Bell Atlantic - Maryland was the first local telephone company in the nation
to offer long-term local number portability, converting its Gaithersburg
switching office on Oct. 30, 1997. With the conversion of offices in the
eastern and western parts of the state, the company now has long-term
local number portability in every office in the state.
"Bell Atlantic is by far the leader in making local facilities available to
competitors as required in the Telecommunications Act of 1996," said Jack
Goldberg, president of Bell Atlantic's Telecom Industry Services group.
"Long-term local number portability is one of the most complex and
expensive challenges our company has ever undertaken, and we've
responded remarkably well."
In addition to all of Maryland, long-term local number portability now is
available in four major metropolitan areas in Bell Atlantic's service area,
including Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Bell
Atlantic estimates that nearly 85 percent of its customers will be able to
choose to take service from any local telephone company without having to
change phone numbers by the end of this year.
"Bell Atlantic pulled out all stops in implementing long-term local number
portability throughout Maryland," said Sherry F. Bellamy, Bell Atlantic -
Maryland president and CEO. "The Maryland Public Service Commission
(PSC) set a very aggressive schedule for providing number portability, and
we met it with an extraordinary effort by hundreds of employees.
"However, not one of our competitors in Maryland has requested long-
term local number portability, despite their clamoring for it as soon as
possible when this issue was debated before the PSC more than two years
ago," said Bellamy. "Some of these competitors are far more comfortable
complaining than actually competing for local telephone service."
Bell Atlantic's leadership in implementing long-term local number
portability is the latest in a series of many steps taken by the company to
open its local markets to competition. Bell Atlantic's local phone
companies have forged more than 560 agreements with dozens of
competing local phone companies -- 46 of those agreements in Maryland.
The agreements allow competitors to connect with Bell Atlantic's network
and, in many cases, to resell Bell Atlantic's local service.
"Bell Atlantic is aggressively moving forward, making our facilities
available for local competitors to enter the marketplace," said Tom Tauke,
Bell Atlantic senior vice president-government relations. "We have a huge
incentive to do so -- because it gives us the ability to enter the $20 billion
long distance market in our mid-Atlantic and Northeast service area.
That's something our customers want and will benefit from."
Local number portability is one component of a 14-point checklist
established in the Telecommunications Act, that must be met before a
regional Bell company can provide long distance service in its region.
In areas where long-term local number portability is not yet available, Bell
Atlantic provides an interim form of number portability that uses the
company's remote call forwarding service. This process uses additional
telephone numbers that could be assigned to other customers. The supply
of U.S. telephone numbers is being used up rapidly as local competition
increases and people use more cellular, fax, modem and extra phone lines.
The new solution Bell Atlantic is deploying does not require the use of a
second phone number and addresses mandates from the Federal
Communications Commission and the Maryland PSC for a long-term form
of local number portability.
Instead of relying on remote call forwarding, the system uses intelligent
network systems and a remote database. This database stores the "ported"
phone numbers of customers who have changed local phone companies, as
well as "location routing numbers," which are assigned to each competing
local telephone company's switch that handles calls.
Here's how the new local number portability system works:
When Customer A calls Customer B, a Bell Atlantic intelligent network
signal checks the database, where it finds that Customer B's phone number
is now served by another local telephone company. The call then is routed
via the appropriate location routing number to the switching center of
Customer B's phone company, and from there to Customer B's phone. All
this happens in a fraction of a second.
Bell Atlantic -- formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX --
is at the forefront of the new communications and information industry.
With more than 41 million telephone access lines and 6.7 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