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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 16, 1996
BELL ATLANTIC PROPOSES UNIVERSAL SERVICE SUBSIDIES
FOR HIGH-COST STATES
Washington, D.C. -- States should have the right to
to assure telephone service is available everywhere, and money from a
"universal service fund" should not go directly to local phone
companies, according to Bell Atlantic.
In comments filed (4/12) with the Federal
(FCC), the company urged that subsidies be given to states where
providing telephone service is most expensive. Bell Atlantic proposed
that the FCC allow federal contributions to be combined with state
subsidies to create a single universal service fund. The states would
then distribute the money to phone companies that need it.
Today, universal service subsidies go to individual high-cost
telephone companies, even if the state as a whole is not a high-cost
"Targeting high-cost states for assistance helps ensure that
will not subsidize inefficient telephone companies in other parts of
the country," said Edward D. Young, III, Bell
Atlantic vice president
and associate general counsel. "We fully support the efforts of
Congress and the FCC to assure that subscribers in high-cost areas
receive affordable telephone service, and we believe our proposal is
an efficient way to reach that goal."
The new funding method proposed by Bell Atlantic will provide a
disincentive for companies to inflate their costs to receive
assistance, the company said in its filing.
Bell Atlantic also pointed out the necessity of the FCC addressing
broad universal service issues in other proceedings the commission
will initiate as a result of the newly enacted telecommunications law.
Bell Atlantic said the FCC should not adopt policies in those
proceedings that will undermine the ability of local telephone
companies to continue to provide service to all customers.
In addition, Bell Atlantic urged the FCC to maintain existing
assistance programs that help low-income customers, such as Link-up
America and Lifeline Assistance, and the company encouraged states to
adopt a voluntary toll restriction service to help customers keep
their phone bills affordable.
"Helping customers control their long-distance calling will prevent
many people from running up large phone bills they can't pay," said
Young. "If customers are willing to restrict their toll usage,
companies can be more flexible in providing service to them."
In the comments, Bell Atlantic also asked for more flexibility in
recovering the cost of local telephone facilities. The company urged
the FCC to allow telephone companies to raise the monthly subscriber
line charge up to 25 cents per year. The subscriber line charge is a
federally mandated monthly charge that consumers pay for interstate
costs associated with a telephone line.
At the same time, Bell Atlantic proposed reductions in the access
surcharges (called carrier common line charges) that long distance
carriers pay for the local facilities. The reduction should be passed
along to long-distance customers on a dollar-for-dollar basis, Bell
Bell Atlantic also strongly endorsed the FCC's efforts to bring the
Information Superhighway to schools and libraries. Bell Atlantic
enthusiastically backed the findings of a Presidential advisory
council to provide Internet access to both students and communities.
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.
- Michel L. Daley, 202-392-1021
Bell Atlantic Comments Filed With the FCC re: