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Bell Atlantic Says FCC Action Offers Little to Consumers
Company Urges FCC to Do More
August 6, 1998
WASHINGTON -- Bell Atlantic said consumers won't see much benefit
from today's decision on high-speed data services and urged the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) to do more to speed the deployment
of high-speed products and services to American consumers, particularly
"The FCC seems to recognize there is a problem," said Tom Tauke, senior
vice president for government relations at Bell Atlantic. "Unfortunately,
the action falls far short of the 'giant leap' required to deploy advanced
telecommunications services to all Americans and to spur real growth in
jobs, investment and the economy."
In January, Bell Atlantic became the first company to file with the FCC
requesting authority to deploy a high-speed data network with the
assurance of fair market incentives.
Today's decision also does little to address the growing disparity between
Americans who have access to the Internet and those who are still waiting
for the promises of advanced technology. The decision to establish
separate subsidiaries creates one more step that will prevent consumers
from realizing the full benefits of an open and competitive marketplace.
"We want to work with the FCC to adopt rules that promote fair and rapid
deployment of advanced services," said Edward D. Young III, senior vice
president and deputy general counsel for Bell Atlantic. "Companies like
Bell Atlantic plan to move aggressively into the high-speed data market,
making significant infrastructure investments and marketing competitive
services to universities, corporations and individuals. That kind of
investment is what Congress intended when it empowered the FCC to
remove barriers to infrastructure investment and encourage competition in
the data market."
Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 directs the FCC to
take whatever steps are necessary to encourage the deployment of
advanced technology. In this case, Bell Atlantic requested that the FCC
recognize that the regulations for voice calls were not intended to apply to
high-speed broadband networks. In its filing, Bell Atlantic also asked the
FCC to recognize that its high-speed broadband network should not be
subject to long distance restrictions and requirements to sell parts of its
network at wholesale prices.
"The telecommunications industry is changing rapidly, but unfortunately it
is still largely governed by regulation that was established before the
Internet and advanced data services were ever created. In the past, new
technologies such as wireless and cellular service have achieved great
success because the FCC allowed the marketplace to work. That
philosophy is what led to the unfettered, entrepreneurial growth of the
Internet and should be extended to emerging data services," said Tauke.
As Internet use grows, the existing backbone is increasingly strained by
growing traffic and more sophisticated technologies, making expanded
infrastructure investment increasingly important.
"A more congested Internet -- especially in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic
region -- is resulting in slower speeds for data transmission as the amount
of online traffic increases. New investment incentives would bring the
benefits of more advanced and faster data transfer to all consumers," said
Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and information
industry. With more than 41 million telephone access lines and more than
seven 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 23 countries.