Bell Atlantic Statement on Proposal to Reduce Phone Rates

Company Supports Significant Savings for Customers

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BACKGROUND - Bell Atlantic, the West Virginia Public Service Commission staff and Consumer Advocate Division today filed a proposal with the Commission to reduce rates significantly for the company's more than 600,000 West Virginia customers. The reductions will be funded through the federal Universal Service Fund, which was established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ensure telephone service remains affordable in rural states. The following response should be attributed to Dennis Bone, president and CEO of Bell Atlantic - West Virginia:

"We're delighted that we can offer real savings to our West Virginia customers. We urge the Commission to approve this proposal, under which all of our customers would receive a rate reduction, most seeing their monthly local service rates drop by 16 percent or more.

"Bell Atlantic has built one of the nation's best telecommunications networks in West Virginia, in spite of high construction costs due to our state's mountainous terrain and widespread, largely rural population. These high costs have resulted in some our rates being higher than in surrounding states. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the FCC's actions are helping to share rural states' high-cost burdens more evenly across the country.

"With these changes, we can reduce rates and continue to work to provide West Virginians with high-quality, affordable telecommunications services."


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