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Bell Atlantic Moves to Enter Long Distance Market in New Jersey
Proposes Measures to Hasten Local Competition
November 16, 1998
NEWARK, N.J. -- Bell Atlantic - New Jersey today outlined a series of
commitments to promote competition in the state's local telephone market
in exchange for an endorsement from the state's Board of Public Utilities
(BPU) for the company to provide long distance service.
The company's filing comes as the BPU, Bell Atlantic and competitors
seeking to provide local phone service in the state begin discussions to
determine how best to increase local phone competition in New Jersey,
especially for residential customers.
"Bell Atlantic is proposing commitments tailored to the competitive and
regulatory environment in New Jersey in an effort to accelerate competition
in the state's already thriving local phone market," said William M.
Freeman, president and CEO of Bell Atlantic - New Jersey.
"At the same time, we're working closely with the BPU and our
competitors to ensure that Bell Atlantic's long distance filing will receive
the Board's support and the approval of the Federal Communications
Commission. The sooner we're allowed into the long distance business,
the sooner we can provide customers with a full range of communications
products and services."
The $8 billion telecommunications market in New Jersey is one of the
largest in Bell Atlantic's region, with nearly half -- $3.8 billion -
representing the long distance market.
Bell Atlantic cannot enter the long distance market until it demonstrates the
company has opened its local markets to competition by meeting a 14-point
checklist detailed in the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
The company's proposal to the BPU includes:
- An offer to combine different elements of Bell Atlantic's
network for basic residential local service and residential ISDN
(Integrated Services Digital Network) service, making it easier
for competitors to provide local phone service. This combining
of network parts-- known as the unbundled network element
platform-- would be available to the company's competitors at a
nominal monthly fee in addition to the price of the network
parts for two years after the date Bell Atlantic begins to provide
long distance service in New Jersey.
- 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 developing a database to track
escalation of service-related problems, written procedures for
reporting and escalating service-related problems, establishment
of a service center dedicated to processing local service
requests of competitors and a measurement process to gauge
the center's performance.
- Computer connections, specified by national standards bodies,
that allow competing local companies to tie their systems
directly to Bell Atlantic's operating support systems for pre-
ordering, ordering, provisioning, maintenance, repair and
Competition is already well under way in New Jersey. To date, 35
companies have applied to offer local service in the state; 28 have received
approval from the BPU. Bell Atlantic has sold more than 35,000 lines to
competitors for resale, most of which are for residential customers, and has
leased numerous facilities and lines to competitors for links to their own
As of September 1998, competitors in New Jersey held 5.5 million phone
numbers that could be assigned to potential new customers. In addition,
competitors have access to all phone numbers throughout the state through
local number portability, which allows customers to keep their phone
number when they change their local phone company.
"Bell Atlantic has facilitated local phone competition in New Jersey for
years," said Freeman. "The commitments in our filing are designed to
make it even easier for competitors to enter the field so that businesses and
residents from Newark to Cape May have a choice for their local phone
Bell Atlantic made an initial long distance filing with the New York Public
Service Commission last year, the first state where the company is seeking
to offer long distance service. That proposal received conditional support
from then New York State Public Service Commission Chairman John
O'Mara, the Department of Justice anti-trust chief Joel Klein and the
Consumer Federation of America, an organization strongly in favor of the
need to open local markets to competition. Bell Atlantic also filed a
blueprint for local competition and long distance entry in Pennsylvania.
"We are dedicated to the process the BPU has designed to ensure a vibrant
competitive local marketplace in New Jersey," said Freeman. "The
commitments we have proposed go well beyond the requirements of the
Telecommunications Act and will accelerate the BPU's process by
furthering competition in the local market.
"New Jersey consumers will realize the promise of the Telecommunications
Act when all players are allowed to offer all services. Bell Atlantic is
committed to becoming a full service provider, able to offer all our
customers the benefits of choice, increased competition and the
convenience of one-stop shopping."
Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and information
industry. With 42 million telephone access lines and eight 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