05.04.1999|Corporate

Bell Atlantic Responds to Pennsylvania State Senate Committee Action on Telecommunications Bill

Bell Atlantic Responds to Pennsylvania State Senate Committee Action on Telecommunications Bill

PUC Appropriate Forum for Network Modernization Issues

May 4, 1999

Media contact: Sharon Shaffer, 215-963-6200 or 412-633-5574
Harry Mitchell, 304-344-7562

BACKGROUND -- The Pennsylvania State Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee today voted out of committee one of three bills specifically crafted to put Bell Atlantic at a marked disadvantage in the increasingly competitive Pennsylvania telecommunications market. The following response should be attributed to Daniel J. Whelan, president and CEO, Bell Atlantic - Pennsylvania:

We're encouraged that the committee did not take up the bills to block the Bell Atlantic-GTE merger and require Bell Atlantic to establish separate retail and wholesale subsidiaries. These bad bills would benefit only AT&T, MCI WorldCom and others, whose mission is clear: Wage an all- out war to protect their own narrow business interests by hamstringing Bell Atlantic's ability to compete.

However, we remain troubled by Senate Bill 669. We agree with many committee members who noted in this morning's meeting that voting out the bill is premature. The Public Utility Commission (PUC) is the appropriate forum to address such matters as network modernization commitments.

The General Assembly in 1993 empowered the PUC to ensure that Pennsylvania's telecommunications infrastructure is state-of-the-art throughout the commonwealth. The commission also was charged with protecting basic local exchange rates. In exchange, the commission has the authority to implement alternative forms of regulation of telecommunications companies.

Bell Atlantic - Pennsylvania and the commission agreed to such a plan in 1994-95. Since then, basic local rates have been protected, and Bell Atlantic actually has reduced rates every year. These reductions will return a cumulative total of more than $120 million to our Pennsylvania customers by the end of this year.

Bell Atlantic is accelerating the modernization of its Pennsylvania network, with specific requirements and deadlines. In fact, last year we invested approximately $18 million a week in our Pennsylvania network.

Bell Atlantic has kept its promise, meeting or exceeding every commitment in its network modernization plan. And we will continue to deliver on our promise to Pennsylvania in the future.

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