Bell Atlantic, MCI Agree to Connect Networks in Washington, D.C.

Bell Atlantic, MCI Agree to Connect Networks In Washington, D.C.

July 29, 1997

Media contacts: Michel Daley (July 29-30 only)

Paul Miller (after July 30)

WASHINGTON -- Bell Atlantic has signed a comprehensive local interconnection and resale agreement in Washington, D.C., with the local service affiliate of long distance giant MCI, Bell Atlantic announced today. Approval from the District of Columbia Public Service Commission is expected within a month.

This is the fourth interconnection agreement Bell Atlantic has signed with MCImetro. Other MCI agreements, all signed in the last month, are in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

"We've done everything possible to facilitate competition in Washington. Today's agreement clearly demonstrates that," said Bill Freeman, president and CEO of Bell Atlantic-Washington.

Freeman pointed out Bell Atlantic already has 11 interconnection agreements in place in the District of Columbia, and more are expected in the near future.

Since passage of the Telecommunications Act last year, Bell Atlantic has entered into 90 interconnection agreements with 34 carriers throughout it's mid-Atlantic region. These include both comprehensive and resale-only agreements.

In addition, the company has 48 interconnection agreements with 18 wireless carriers.

The agreement announced today permits MCI to resell Bell Atlantic local phone service, under the MCI brand.

In addition to resale, Bell Atlantic has agreed to offer MCI numerous services, including:

  • access to Bell Atlantic databases and ordering systems,

  • interconnection at various points in the Bell Atlantic network,

  • collocation of MCI equipment in Bell Atlantic central offices,

  • interconnection to other companies with whom MCI is not directly connected,

  • number portability (allowing customers to keep their phone number when they change local phone companies), and

  • the ability to purchase and combine what are commonly called "unbundled network elements" which include virtually any piece of Bell Atlantic's network.

The arrangements permit MCI to offer local service to customers through several means. In addition to reselling Bell Atlantic's local service, MCI may repackage Bell Atlantic's network elements. Another option, provided for in the agreement, allows MCI to interconnect its facilities to Bell Atlantic's facilities, to the extent that MCI chooses to build its own facilities.

Prices for all of the interconnection services and unbundled network elements that Bell Atlantic will provide MCI are based on the actual costs of providing those services. MCI may purchase Bell Atlantic's telecommunications services for resale at a discount off the retail prices Bell Atlantic customers now pay. This discounted rate is established by the D.C. Public Service Commission.

While MCI will not reciprocate with similar types of services to Bell Atlantic, it will allow the completion of calls from Bell Atlantic's customers to MCI customers, and it will offer number portability.

"Now that we've opened the door for MCI to provide local phone service, I only hope it will be as accommodating in helping us enter the long distance business," Freeman said. "There's no question that the public would be better served by more competition in the long distance business."

Bell Atlantic cannot offer long distance in its service area until the FCC determines that the company has met the requirements of the Telecommunications Act. Previously, MCI and the other long distance giants have opposed local telephone company entry into that market, which is dominated by the Big Three oligopoly of AT&T, MCI and Sprint.

Bell Atlantic Corp. (NYSE: BEL) is at the forefront of the new communications, entertainment and information industry. In the mid-Atlantic region, the company's telephone company subsidiaries are the premier providers 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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