NEW YORK, NY -- Bell Atlantic (NYSE:BEL) today submitted a filing with the New York Public Service Commission to pave the way for New York consumers and businesses to have a long-distance option that will provide them with greater value and more flexibility.
"The key words today are consumers and choice," Ivan Seidenberg, Bell Atlantic vice chairman, president and chief operating officer said at a news conference today. "Bell Atlantic's entry into the New York long-distance marketplace will give businesses and consumers a new choice that will offer them innovative pricing and packaging of local and long-distance services.
"The best situation for consumers and businesses is when all telecommunications companies can compete in all services across the board. In New York, Bell Atlantic is the only company not allowed to compete effectively by being excluded from long distance," Seidenberg added.
In a filing with the New York Public Service Commission (PSC), Bell Atlantic described how it has irreversibly opened the local telephone market and is meeting the requirements to offer long distance in its home region.
"Anyone who claims that the local phone market here isn't open or that there isn't competition is ignoring the facts," said James G. Cullen, president and CEO of Bell Atlantic's Telecom Group. "The local telephone market is open. Competition exists. We should be allowed to begin selling long-distance service.
"There are no barriers to any company wishing to enter the local telephone market in New York," Cullen added.
Bell Atlantic's filing included the following information on competition in the local market: The company has signed 33 interconnection agreements with competitive providers in New York; the company has sold more than 108,000 lines wholesale to competitors now re-selling those lines to New York businesses and consumers; full facilities-based competition exists; the company is devoting hundreds of employees and spending about $1 billion region-wide on the systems, number portability and other steps needed to open the local phone market to competition; and the company has met the 14-point local competition checklist contained in the federal law.
The company told the PSC that consumers, businesses and the state are the big winners in this scenario. Bell Atlantic's move into long distance, the company added, will boost the Empire State's growing economy.
"For too long businesses and consumers in New York have been denied a long-distance choice that can provide them with innovation and value," said Seidenberg. "That's astonishing when you consider that New York is one of the most intensely competitive telecommunications markets in the world."
"Our customers want to buy local and long-distance services simply and quickly, and they want to customize those services to meet their individual needs," added Cullen. "Bell Atlantic can meet those needs and make New York companies more competitive in the regional, national and global markets."
Cullen pointed out that some 41 billion minutes of international and domestic long-distance calls originate and terminate in New York each year. Dozens of other telecommunications companies have already entered what Cullen called the country's most important telephone market.
"New York is the brass ring. This $7 billion per year long-distance market is home to 61 of the Fortune 500 companies, and we must begin to serve it," Cullen said.
In its filing today, Bell Atlantic asked the New York PSC to endorse the company's application to offer long-distance service in New York and to confirm that Bell Atlantic has met the competitive checklist outlined in the federal law. The PSC previously requested 60 days to review this information before Bell Atlantic applies to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for long-distance approval.
The new Bell Atlantic - formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX - is at the forefront of the new communications, information and entertainment industry. With 40 million telephone access lines and 5.8 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.
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