Bell Atlantic Urges FCC to Unclog Data Communications
Bottlenecks at West Virginia Borders
Inaction by Carriers Making State a 'High-Tech Island'
July 23, 1998
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Bell Atlantic - West Virginia is urging the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take immediate action to
unclog telecommunications bottlenecks that deprive the state's citizens of
high-speed data connections with the rest of the country.
"West Virginia is fast becoming a high-tech island," said Dennis Bone,
president and CEO of Bell Atlantic - West Virginia. "The sophisticated
telecommunications technology Bell Atlantic is deploying throughout the
state will do no good if our customers are marooned by the lack of high-
capacity links out of state."
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 directs the FCC to encourage
deployment of advanced telecommunications services for all Americans. In
its filing, Bell Atlantic - West Virginia is asking the FCC to authorize it to
furnish much-needed computer-to-computer lines linking the state to the
Today Bell Atlantic - West Virginia is not allowed to provide high-speed
data services between Charleston and Columbus, Morgantown and
Pittsburgh or even Charleston and Morgantown. Long distance
companies are permitted to handle those transmissions. However, their
facilities have not kept pace with customers' demands for high-capacity
Bell Atlantic - West Virginia is asking the FCC to grant its petition by Aug.
"What we have here are six-lane superhighways in West Virginia feeding
into two-lane country roads leading in and out of the state," Bone said.
"We've invested more than a billion dollars over the past 10 years to build
a state-of-the-art network in West Virginia, but the long distance
companies simply aren't keeping pace. If they won't invest in the future of
West Virginia, then the FCC should let us step in."
Three West Virginia officials submitted affidavits to the FCC on this issue:
Billy Jack Gregg, director of the Consumer Advocate Division of the West
Virginia Public Service Commission; Thomas C. Burns, executive director
of the West Virginia Development Office, and Henry Blosser, director of
the West Virginia Network for Educational Telecomputing.
The three noted that West Virginia has undertaken several far-sighted
initiatives to bring the 21st century to its secondary schools, universities and
state government agencies, but the state's residents and businesses will be
at a disadvantage if connections to the rest of the world don't keep pace.
New West Virginia businesses -- such as local call centers attracted by the
state's Office of the Future program -- have been unable to open on time
because of the lack of long distance company facilities. As a result, the
state is losing new job opportunities.
A Potential Boost to Schools, Others Who Use the Internet
Bell Atlantic's petition notes that the Telecommunications Act of 1996
requires the FCC and state regulators to encourage the deployment of
advanced telecommunications to all Americans, particularly to elementary
and secondary schools and classrooms. Some 98 percent of all K-12
schools in West Virginia have high-speed Internet access.
However, the petition notes, Bell Atlantic Internet Solutions has not been
able to find a single high-capacity link from Morgantown to Pittsburgh for
the state's Internet access -- even after more than six months of requests.
A project begun last fall by the State of West Virginia and Bell Atlantic
could significantly increase Internet access speeds for West Virginia
schools and other state users. The $20-million project, dubbed WEST
VIRGINIA 2001, will be completed by the end of the year 2000. This
telecommunications network will furnish advanced technologies to state
government, colleges and universities, schools and non-profit health-care
A key component of the WEST VIRGINIA 2001 network is Bell
Atlantic's asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) cell relay service. ATM
consolidates voice, data and video communications onto a single phone line
at extremely high speeds, providing greater capacity and flexibility.
This network will be capable of handling a wide variety of voice, data and
video services, including video conferencing and interactive distance
learning. Courts in Cabell and Kanawha counties are already testing the
first application of the new network for remote court proceedings. Using
video cameras, a judge at the courthouse can conduct pre-trial proceedings
over the network with accused offenders while they remain at the jail
Health-care facilities are expected to use the network to provide diagnostic
services to rural areas. Telemedicine applications allow patients to be
examined by specialists miles away.
"Through projects such as WEST VIRGINIA 2001, our state leads the
nation in bringing the latest broadband services to its citizens. But, that
progress will clearly be stymied if we can't step in to provide connections
to the outside world," Bone said
Bell Atlantic -- formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX --
is at the forefront of the new communications and information industry.
With more than 41 million telephone access lines and 6.7 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