BELL ATLANTIC TO REGULATORS: LET'S WORK BELL ATLANTIC TO REGULATORS: LET'S WORK COMPETITION
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 2, 1996
BELL ATLANTIC TO REGULATORS:
LET'S WORK TOGETHER ON MERGER, INTRODUCTION OF COMPETITION
The new Bell Atlantic will create more choices and
strengthen communities, CEO
St. Petersburg, Fla. -- Bell Atlantic and NYNEX will
regulators who will review their announced merger that the deal will
create even more competition in telecommunications markets, Bell
Atlantic Chairman and CEO Raymond W. Smith told regulators meeting in
Florida Wednesday night.
"You're right to be concerned about the social consequences of
industry restructuring," said Raymond W. Smith, chairman and CEO of
Bell Atlantic. "That's why we'll be working with you closely to
sure that you're comfortable with our plans to improve service, invest
in our communities, and open our networks on fair and equitable
Smith, addressing an audience at the KMB Video Regulatory Conference
last night, said the loudest naysayers -- such as AT&T --
misunderstand the nature of the new competitive environment created by
the Telecommunications Act of 1996. "We have more incentive now --
not less -- to open our local markets quickly, if only because of the
$20 billion opportunity that awaits us in the long distance market,"
he said. "This merger will increase competition, not lessen it, and
our country will be stronger for it."
Smith urged regulators to define the rules of the road quickly and to
think creatively as they reconsider their roles as guardians of the
public interest. The complicated path to opening new markets and
fostering competition can be made much simpler, he said, if
governments adhere to three guiding principles:
- PRESERVE THE SAFETY NET. Regulators should
protect all Americans'
right to affordable local phone service, and ensure that all
carriers share responsibility for universal service.
competition -- not regulation -- should provide for low cost
Internet access and interactive video. Locally controlled
partnerships involving businesses, state and local officials and
parents should encourage the introduction of new technologies in
- ESTABLISH GUIDELINES, NOT RESTRICTIONS. Smith urged
provide general guidelines that encourage competitors to agree to
enter each other's markets fairly and quickly. "Give state
commissioners the incentive and flexibility to craft rules that
are best for the very different circumstances found from state to
state -- and give phone companies the flexibility to negotiate
terms that recognize those differences," he said.
- KEEP THINGS SIMPLE. The ultimate goal of the new
telecommunications law encourages new players to enter the market.
"Competition thrives when regulatory hurdles and bureaucratic
complexities are kept to a minimum," Smith pointed out.
Smith noted that while deregulation sometimes creates consolidation
among industries, it also leads to the birth of dozens of new
contestants. Those smaller companies, Smith predicted, will be able
to compete with the new Bell Atlantic -- and even take advantage of
the company's state-of-the-art network -- as long as the rules of the
game are fair.
"Many of our markets are vibrantly competitive already, with more
potential competitors lining up at the gates: cable companies, long
distance companies, alternative access providers, and wireless
companies, just to name a few."
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.
- Shannon Fioravanti, 703-974-5455
David Stakun, 215-963-6639
Ray Smith Speech: KMB
Video Regulatory Conference