ARLINGTON, Va. - Bell Atlantic today signed five more interconnection agreements with C-TEC Services , Inc., demonstrating that-- despite self-serving charges by the long distance giants-- it is moving swiftly to toward local telephone competition. Bell Atlantic now has 16 such agreements in place with its competitors, and the company is actively negotiating with a number of others.
Today's C-TEC agreements are with Bell Atlantic's local telephone companies in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Last week, the two firms announced a similar agreement in Pennsylvania.
"The long-distance companies can kick and scream all they want about how we're blocking their entry and how we're not serious about negotiations. And while they make their fuss, we'll just continue as we have been all along, quietly negotiating with those who truly want to negotiate. The best answer to their claims are the agreements we have in place," said Eric Rabe, Bell Atlantic's Assistant Vice President-Corporate Communications.
The agreements meet the 14-point checklist of the Telecommunications Act, as well as requirements established by the Federal Communications Commission. The agreements bring Bell Atlantic a significant step closer to achieving authority to offer a full package of local and long-distance services to its customers.
Specifically, Bell Atlantic's agreements signed today are with Residential Communications Network and Commonwealth Long Distance. Both are units of C-TEC.
Today's pacts cover the comprehensive interconnection arrangements that Bell Atlantic and C-TEC will follow to interconnect their networks and exchange traffic. Among other items, the agreements call for:
- reciprocal per-minute charges of $.003-.005 for the completion of local calls originated by the other company's customers;
- access to pieces of Bell Atlantic's network ("unbundled network elements"), and
- the ability of customers to switch from one company to another without having to change telephone numbers.
"These agreements will benefit both consumers and the companies involved. We're now a step closer to bringing true competition to the long-distance market in our region," Rabe said.
Bell Atlantic and C-TEC will file the agreements with regulators in the affected jurisdictions for approval. Decisions are expected by the end of January. However, the agreements are effective immediately.
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.