FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 24, 1996
BELL ATLANTIC LAUNCHES STATEWIDE INFORMATION HIGHWAY
'Access Virginia' expected to spur economic development
Richmond, Va - The light just turned green on Virginia's
Information Superhighway and Bell Atlantic's at the wheel.
In a news conference today at Richmond's J. Sargeant Reynolds
Community College, Bell Atlantic-Virginia announced it would begin
building a multi-million-dollar high-speed interactive telecommunications
network, dubbed Access Virginia. Sprint will provide the
long distance portion of the network.
Participating in the news conference were: Robert Woltz, Bell
Atlantic vice president for external affairs; Dr. Paul Torgersen,
president of Virginia Tech, representing the Commonwealth, and
Don Teague, Sprint's vice president for government systems.
The state-of-the-art network will link schools, government offices,
libraries and other public institutions with a backbone of broadband
optical fiber, capable of transmitting vast amounts of voice,
data and interactive video at the same time.
"This network will not only clearly enhance the quality of
education in Virginia, it will also serve as a magnet in attracting
businesses to the state that require state-of-the art communications
technology. I'm proud that my company can play such an integral
role in making that happen," Woltz said.
The network will be driven by Bell Atlantic's new asynchronous
transfer mode (ATM) cell relay service. The service allows users
to consolidate voice, data and video traffic onto a single line.
Not only does it offer greater capacity, but also more flexibility.
Five institutions of higher learning will initially be linked
to the network - Old Dominion University, Virginia Tech, New River
Community College, Blue Ridge Community College and the Northern
Virginia Graduate Center. By the end of the year, in excess of
45 sites located on the campuses of Virginia's community colleges,
will be added.
Woltz estimated the contract will generate $5 to $8 million in
revenue for his company during the first two years. "This
contract will accelerate deployment of the network, and the real
value to us will come as businesses find innovative applications
for the new technology," he added.
Under the terms of the deal, Bell Atlantic will serve as a single
point of contact in arranging for the network deployment. Sprint
will provide long distance connections.
Because Bell Atlantic-Virginia serves only about a third of the
state's geography, it will, sub-contract, as necessary, to 19
other local telephone companies to fill requests for ATM service
in areas it does not serve. Those companies are: Amelia Telephone
Corp., Buggs Island Telephone Cooperative, Burke's Garden Telephone
Co., Citizen's Telephone Cooperative, Clifton Forge-Waynesboro
Telephone Co., GTE South, Highland Telephone Cooperative, Mountain
Grove-Williamsville Cooperative, New Castle Telephone Co., New
Hope Telephone Co., North River Telephone Cooperative, Pembroke
Telephone Cooperative, Peoples Mutual Telephone Co., Roanoke &
Botetourt Telephone Co., Scott County Telephone Cooperative, Shenandoah
Telephone Co., Sprint/Centel/Virginia, Sprint/United Telephone-Southeast
and Virginia Telephone Co.
"The local telephone companies have been looking for a way
to speed development of the high speed network for some time,"
Woltz said. "We are delighted that customers in all parts
of Virginia will be able to participate."
While the contract covers a seven-year span, there is no definitive
timetable for completion of the new network. The pace of the
construction actually depends on how fast schools, universities
and governments decide to expand their use of the capabilities
provided by the network.
Access Virginia can be used for a wide variety of applications,
including Internet access, data sharing and interactive distance
learning. The distance learning application allows a teacher
at a remote location to instruct several classrooms in different
locations at the same time. With
the system, the teacher and students can see and talk with each
other as if they were together in the same classroom. Microphones
and cameras are voice-activated, allowing students to ask questions
or inject ideas.
The state's first interactive distance learning system was activated
two years ago in southwest Virginia, linking Mountain Empire Community
College in Big Stone Gap with two Lee County high schools. Since
then, Bell Atlantic has deployed distance learning networks in
the city of Hampton, Clarke County and Virginia's New River Valley
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.
- Bell Atlantic: Paul Miller, 804-772-1460
Sprint: James Fisher, 202-828-7406