Bell Atlantic joins governor in wiring pennsylvania to the 'net

Company will provide money and muscle to wire schools to the online world

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Hundreds of Bell Atlantic employee volunteers, led by Bell Atlantic-Pennsylvania President and CEO William Harral, will fan out across the Commonwealth this spring to help the Ridge administration link dozens of schools to the Internet, it was announced during a news conference at Harrisburg High School today.

Bell Atlantic-Pennsylvania will provide $33,000 for classroom wiring kits containing cable, jacks and other materials. The initiative, known as Build PEN (Pennsylvania Education Network), also will receive a $100,000 boost from Bell Atlantic to help provide enough equipment to wire 400 classrooms and 85 computer labs.

"We're proud to contribute the money, muscle and know-how to help equip Pennsylvania students with the skills they'll need to live, work and compete in the information age," said Harral. "These public-private partnerships provide the perfect route to get the job done."

The Bell Atlantic volunteers will wire schools for computer networking, the critical first step in providing classrooms with the latest technology. Active and retired Bell Atlantic employees will complete the wiring in their neighborhood schools.

"Build PEN has the potential to become perhaps the biggest and most powerful public-private partnership this state has ever seen," said Harral. "And it's crucial that this effort be directed toward education. Computer literacy and on-line research skills will be as vital in the 21st century workplace as the ability to speak and write clearly."

Bell Atlantic's contribution of dollars and technical know-how to Build PEN is one aspect of its efforts to enhance education and economic development in the state. Work continues with the company's Pennsylvania Advantage project, a blueprint for a wide-ranging and concerted effort to attract and develop businesses and jobs to Pennsylvania.

In addition, the Free Library of Philadelphia honored Bell Atlantic for contributing $500,000 to provide Internet access to the library's 52 branches. And in a partnership with the state Department of Education, Bell Atlantic donated $750,000 to launch "OnLine at PA Libraries," an initiative that is connecting 188 public libraries across the state to the Internet.

"The Build PEN partnership is a wonderful and exciting opportunity for all of us in the business and private sectors to work toward a common goal in Pennsylvania," said Harral.

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.

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