Bell Atlantic Decries AT&T Plans to Dump Fixed and Moderate Income "Occasional Callers"
Published Reports Suggest AT&T Wants to Rid Itself
of Customers Who Make Fewer Than Three Calls Per Month
March 23, 1998
NEW YORK - Condemning AT&T's plans to dump groups of low volume long
distance callers, Bell Atlantic today said the company will welcome
all customers who feel they have been abandoned by the long distance
"They're apparently going to turn loyal customers - people with solid
credit - out into the cold," said Al Binford, president and CEO of
Bell Atlantic Long Distance. "It's hard to believe that AT&T would be
Binford's comments were made in response to published reports that
AT&T chief Michael Armstrong plans to crack down on what he calls
"occasional callers," or loyal customers who make fewer than three
long-distance calls per month. According to industry analysts and
market research, many of these callers live on moderate incomes, and a
large percentage are senior citizens. Bell Atlantic today provides
Lifeline and other local services priced for use by people of more
A recent report in The Record of Hackensack, N.J. cited the case ofan
85-year-old woman who has been a loyal AT&T customer for years. The
story said that she, and 20 million other AT&T customers like her,
might be forced to pay more for their long-distance calls or to pay
for long-distance service in advance.
An AT&T official said that if loyal customers don't care for such
treatment, "they may not choose to stay with AT&T."
Binford noted that while Bell Atlantic will compete vigorously for
AT&T's prized high volume callers, it will remember those customers
who make occasional long distance calls as well. "Our long distance
offering will meet the needs of many different kinds of customers,"
Binford said. "We'll provide innovative, exciting, and competitively
priced packages to match a variety of calling patterns. The bottom
line is, you'll be welcomed at Bell Atlantic."
Bell Atlantic plans to offer one stop shopping for local and long
distance service, first in New York, where the company hopes to enter
the market by the end of the year pending regulatory approvals.
Binford added that local customers can expect to benefit from the same
inclusive policy when the company provides long distance in New
England and the Middle Atlantic states as well.
Bell Atlantic - formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX -
is at the forefront of the new communications and information
industry. With 40.5 million telephone access lines and six 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