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Bell Atlantic Push for Competition Re-Energized by
Federal Court Decision
Stay of FCC Pricing Rules Clears Obstacle to
Local Interconnection Agreements
October 15, 1996
Eric Rabe, 215-963-6531
Shannon Fioravanti, 703-974-5455
ARLINGTON, Va. - Bell Atlantic has a straighter path
into the long
distance business because states will oversee local telephone service
competition as a result of a federal court ruling today, Bell Atlantic
"The Court of Appeals made the right move," said James R. Young, vice
president and general counsel. "With the FCC pricing rules out of
way, we and the states can get on with creating a new competitive
telecommunications marketplace and providing some real choice in long
distance. The only result of the complex FCC rules so far was
uncertainty and gridlock in negotiating agreements that would lead to
Bell Atlantic was among those who argued that the FCC wrongly took
authority for pricing that the 1996 Telecommunications Act designated
for the states and at the same time forced local telephone companies
to sell service to competitors below cost.
"The FCC rules forced us to actually subsidize our
said. "But worse than that, these rules prevented decisions on
service rates from being made at the state level where regulators have
the experience and the knowledge to set rules based on their
particular local conditions."
Under the 1996 Telecommunications Act, companies like Bell Atlantic
must negotiate interconnection and resale terms with new competitors
and reach agreements. If agreement cannot be reached on some point,
the Act sets up an arbitration process, managed by individual states,
to solve the problems. Deadlines are set by the law for reaching
those agreements or arbitration decisions.
"The whole process created by the Telecommunications Act remains in
place. Now that the FCC pricing provisions have been set aside, we'll
be able to sit down with new local telephone companies and reach quick
agreements," Young said. "If we can't agree, the states will
prices just as Congress intended."
Already Bell Atlantic has ten agreements with new competitors in six
of the Bell Atlantic jurisdictions. Negotiations are underway with
dozens of other competitors today.
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.