Bell Atlantic Opens Markets; Builds for Future
'Road Work' Starts on WEST VIRGINIA 2001
Feb. 25, 1998
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Bell Atlantic - West Virginia spent much of last
year doing road work - digital road work. When finished in the year
2000, this high-speed digital network will rival the most
sophisticated anywhere in the country.
"We're investing over $20 million in a project, the magnitude of which
has not been seen since the construction of the interstate highway
system four decades ago," said Dennis Bone, Bell Atlantic - West
Virginia president and CEO.
Bone and Gov. Cecil H. Underwood unveiled plans for the Bell Atlantic®
WEST VIRGINIA 2001sm network last October. Since that time, the
company has increased its pace of installing fiber-optic cable. At
the end of 1997, Bell Atlantic had over 129,000 fiber miles of this
high-quality, high-capacity cable crossing the state, linked to
digital switching systems.
A key component of the WEST VIRGINIA 2001 network is Bell Atlantic's
asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) cell relay service. ATM
consolidates voice, data and video communications on a single phone
line at extremely high speeds, providing greater capacity and
flexibility. The network is expected to increase efficiency in state
government agencies, give West Virginia's higher education community
the ability to share resources like never before and greatly enhance
the level of health care available in rural parts of the state.
Bell Atlantic - West Virginia made significant progress last year in
opening its local telephone network to competition. The company is
working diligently to comply with the Telecommunications Act of 1996,
taking the required technical and regulatory steps to link its network
with competitors who want to offer local phone service in the state.
In the two years since Congress enacted the legislation, Bell Atlantic
has entered into agreements to connect its network with those of over
20 competing companies in West Virginia.
"We've made giant strides in a short 24 months. Our markets are open
to any and all who wish to compete with us," Bone said. "I look
forward to the day that Bell Atlantic can likewise compete in the long
distance arena now dominated by the cozy price club of AT&T, MCI and
Sprint. Only then will West Virginians be able to choose one company
for a complete package of telecommunications services."
Year Marked by Solid Growth
Bell Atlantic - West Virginia continued to experience rapid growth in
1997. The company had more than 800,000 access lines in service at
the end of the year, 23,000 more than in 1996. This growth led the
company to add work centers and hire more employees. The most recent
addition was the Bell Atlantic Welcome Center whose workforce handles
orders for new telephone service from first-time Bell Atlantic
customers in several mid-Atlantic states. The center will ultimately
employee 200 people.
In West Virginia, Bell Atlantic currently has 3,000 employees and an
annual payroll in excess of $135 million.
At year's end, Bell Atlantic eliminated the charge for Touch-Tone
service, saving West Virginia customers $4 million annually. The
company began phasing out this charge in 1995. These cuts, combined
with other price reductions in prior years, will save Bell Atlantic's
West Virginia customers nearly $40 million a year.
Bell Atlantic's robust telecommunications infrastructure was once
again instrumental in attracting new businesses to the state last
year. Companies that demand the very best in telecommunications have
opened telephone service centers in several parts of West Virginia -
including Coldwater Creek in Mineralwells and Civic Development Group
"The Office of the Future partnership between Bell Atlantic and the
State of West Virginia has fostered a new vitality in the state's
economic development," said Bone. Since its inception in 1990, the
Office of the Future has brought more than 16,000 jobs to West
During 1997, Bell Atlantic completed links for 677 kindergarten
through twelfth-grade public schools in its West Virginia service area
to the Internet via direct, digital frame relay service. "The $10
million Bell Atlantic® WORLD SCHOOLsmprogram is the most
challenging education initiative ever undertaken by Bell Atlantic in
West Virginia," said Bone. "And we're delighted with the outcome.
West Virginia is seen as a national leader in integrating technology
Bell Atlantic - West Virginia also has awarded more than $230,000 to
innovative educators over the past three years through its WORLD
SCHOOL Grant Program.
Bell Atlantic - West Virginia has a long heritage of investing in the
communities it serves. That sense of corporate responsibility did not
change in 1997. Last year the company contributed over $626,000 to
charitable agencies across the state. In addition, it directed
$180,000 to support various state and local economic development
The coming year poses even more challenges and opportunities for Bell
Atlantic. "We will continue to put into action the provisions of the
Telecommunications Act, bringing the benefits of full competition in
local and long distance service to West Virginians as quickly as
possible," said Bone. "We also will move forward with further
modernization of our network. West Virginians deserve nothing less
than the best and Bell Atlantic will provide it."
Bell Atlantic - formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX -
is at the forefront of the new communications and information
industry. With 40.5 million telephone access lines and six 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 21 countries.