Bell Atlantic Response to AT&T Chief Armstrong Speech

Bell Atlantic Response to AT&T Chief Armstrong Speech

April 28, 1999

Media contact: Shannon Fioravanti, 215-963-6639

Background: The following is Bell Atlantic-Pennsylvania's response to a speech delivered to the Philadelphia World Affairs Council today by AT&T Chairman and CEO Michael Armstrong. This statement may be attributed to Daniel J. Whelan, president and CEO, Bell Atlantic -- Pennsylvania:

Michael Armstrong's comments to the World Affairs Council demonstrate a lack of awareness of the status of telecommunications competition in Pennsylvania. We hope he is given more accurate briefing materials the next time he returns to Philadelphia for one of his stump speeches.

The local telecommunications market is irreversibly open to competitors across the Commonwealth, with dozens of carriers certified to offer local phone service in the state, including AT&T. Furthermore, Bell Atlantic invests more than $18 million dollars a week improving a premier telecommunications network for Pennsylvania.

AT&T is not interested in competing unless its profits are assured by unrealistic discounts on Bell Atlantic services that AT&T uses. At the same time, AT&T has made clear that it is not interested in serving small customers -- either small businesses or at home.

Instead, Mr. Armstrong would rather demand billions in reductions in the fees he pays Bell Atlantic to complete long distance calls.

What Mr. Armstrong will not tell customers is that his industry has raised long distance rates 44 percent over the last two years, despite a 10 percent reduction in these access fees. By and large, AT&T has pocketed these savings, instead of sharing them with customers. And today, Mr. Armstrong made no promises about what he'd do with any savings he reaps.

Mr. Armstrong is calling for these reductions to bankroll yet another cable venture, the $50 billion purchase of MediaOne. If this merger is consummated, AT&T will lock up 66 percent of the nation's households on a closed, cable-modem platform, freezing out hundreds of internet service providers and restricting consumer choices in the process.

To compete with this behemoth, Bell Atlantic and GTE are combining to deliver a more robust suite of voice and data services to Pennsylvanians at competitive prices. This merger serves Governor Ridge's economic development agenda well, and is about job and business growth across the Commonwealth. It is about keeping the hometown team at home -- not in places like Basking Ridge and Denver.

Our network deployment strategy is on schedule, and Pennsylvanians everywhere are benefiting from an advanced telecommunications infrastructure brought to them by Bell Atlantic -- not AT&T.

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