06.12.1998|Corporate

Bell Atlantic Files Blueprint for Local Competition, Long Distance Entry in Pennsylvania

Bell Atlantic Files Blueprint for Local Competition, Long Distance Entry in Pennsylvania

June 12, 1998

Media contact:Harry Mitchell, 304-344-7562
Sharon Shaffer, 215-963-6200/412-633-5574

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Bell Atlantic - Pennsylvania has proposed a series of commitments designed to make it easier for other companies to compete in the state's local telephone market in exchange for support from the state's Public Utility Commission (PUC) for Bell Atlantic's entry into the long distance market in Pennsylvania.

Bell Atlantic's June 11 filing is a response to a proposal made April 23 by the commission.

"Bell Atlantic - Pennsylvania is proposing significant commitments to accelerate competition in portions of the Pennsylvania market where it lags the rapid pace occurring elsewhere in the state,"said Daniel J. Whelan, president and CEO of Bell Atlantic - Pennsylvania.

"Our proposal, which goes well beyond the requirements of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the federal courts, is tailored to the competitive and regulatory environment in Pennsylvania."

Bell Atlantic currently is prohibited from offering long distance service in its service area until it has met a series of requirements included in the Telecommunications Act.

Highlights of the company's proposal include:

  • An offer to competing local telephone companies in which Bell Atlantic would combine different portions of its telephone network for basic local and single-line ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) services. This combining of network parts is known as the unbundled network element platform, or UNE-P. Competitors could use this offering to reach all residential customers who are not already served by Bell Atlantic switching offices where at least one competitor has its own network equipment. This offering would be available to competitors at a nominal monthly fee in addition to the price of the network parts for two years after the date Bell Atlantic - Pennsylvania is allowed to provide in-region long distance.

  • Development of a comprehensive process to make it easier for competing local telephone companies to do business with Bell Atlantic. This process -- much of which already has been implemented -- will include written procedures for reporting and escalating service-related problems; establishment of an organization and service center dedicated to meeting the needs of competitors, and a measurement process to gauge the center's performance.

  • Standards for providing the same high quality of service to competing local telephone companies that Bell Atlantic provides to its own customers and operations. If Bell Atlantic fails to meet these high standards for providing and maintaining service, the company will credit the affected competitors' bills. Uniform computer interfaces that enable competing local companies to link to Bell Atlantic's operating support systems for ordering, maintenance, repair and other functions.

Competition Flourishing in Pennsylvania

These commitments will further increase competition for local phone service, which already is present and flourishing throughout Pennsylvania. "Businesses and residents from larger cities such as Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, as well as smaller communities such as Kingston and Wyomissing, can choose who provides their local phone service,"said Whelan. "Ninety-four percent of Bell Atlantic - Pennsylvania's business lines and 87 percent of our residence lines are in switching centers where at least one competitor is present."

Many competitors are reselling Bell Atlantic's telecommunications services under their own brands. Others are leasing Bell Atlantic's facilities and lines to link with their own networks. Still others are providing service entirely over their own networks.

"The commission has established a framework designed to ensure that viable and vibrant competition is irreversible in Pennsylvania,"said Whelan. "The commitments we have proposed reinforce and build on this framework by going the extra mile to hasten competition in the residential market, particularly in the more rural areas of the state.

"We will work with the PUC and other interested parties to craft a document that the PUC will support and the FCC will approve -- a document that's in the best interests of all of us in Pennsylvania."

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 23 countries.

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