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Bell Atlantic's Network Continues
to Grow in West Virginia
Company's Phone Lines in State Increase by Nearly 19,000
February 2, 2000
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The year past was one marked by change for
Bell Atlantic as competition mounted in virtually every sector of the
business. Nevertheless, demand for Bell Atlantic's services continued to
"Our world is changing around us, and we're keeping pace with that
change," said Dennis Bone, president and CEO of Bell Atlantic -
Bell Atlantic closed out the year with 844,367 telephone access lines,
18,694 more than it had at the end of 1998. However, the rate of increase
was somewhat lower than that of either of the past two years.
While some of this growth reflects a healthier economic climate, Bone
suggested much of it can be tied to the explosive popularity of the Internet
and other emerging technologies.
"More families need and want additional telephone lines in their
home," Bone said. "They may want a separate line for the
computer, another for the fax machine, and yet another just for the
Bell Atlantic hired more than 400 employees in West Virginia in 1999 to
keep pace with the growth in its network. At the end of the year, the
company had over 3,100 employees in the state, a net gain of about 10
During 1999, Bone said Bell Atlantic faced increasing competition
throughout its business.
"Not only are we now engaged in serious battles in the regional-toll
market, but we're seeing more companies offering local phone
service," he said.
In the Kanawha Valley alone, four companies have collocated competitive
facilities in our switching centers, and three more are pending. Moreover,
several cable television companies in the state are poised to jump into the
The West Virginia Public Service Commission has certified 51 companies
to offer local phone service in the state. "There's no question that
number will rise in coming months," Bone said.
"Not only are we seeing increased competition, but the players are
changing as the telecommunications marketplace transforms itself,"
Bone said. "Huge mergers and alliances are taking place, with
companies positioning themselves to compete in the high-growth data
Investing in the Mountain State
The demand for new lines prompted Bell Atlantic to invest at a record
pace in its Mountain State network. Last year the company spent roughly
$160 million, much of it earmarked for state-of-the-art electronics and
transmission systems. Just in the last four years, Bell Atlantic has invested
more than half-a-billion dollars in new technology and upgrading of
existing facilities in the state.
"When West Virginians place a call or access the Internet, chances
are that call will travel through fiber-optic cables," said Bone. A
single, hair-thin, glass fiber is capable of carrying thousands of phone
conversations at the same time.
"We have installed more than 175,000 miles of optical fibers in
West Virginia, and more is going in each week," he said.
WEST VIRGINIA 2001
Part of the company's 1999 capital investment funded the continued
construction of the state's new WEST VIRGINIA 2001sm network. A key
component of this network is Bell Atlantic's asynchronous transfer mode
(ATM) cell relay service. With ATM technology, voice, data and video
communications can travel over a single phone line at extremely high
speeds, providing customers with greater flexibility.
At the end of 1999, Bell Atlantic had four ATM switches in place in West
Virginia and a total WEST VIRGINIA 2001 network investment of over
$20 million. This advanced network, launched late in 1997, is now a
reality in many parts of the state.
A number of courts, for example, are using WEST VIRGINIA 2001 for
remote proceedings. Instead of transporting a prisoner from jail to
courtroom via a police vehicle over traditional roadways, WEST
VIRGINIA 2001 accomplishes the same task via video running over a
high-speed, fiber-optic "highway." Prisoner and judge can see
and hear each other through a video hook-up, eliminating special
transportation and risk.
In addition, Bell Atlantic is currently constructing a statewide intranet that
will connect all 55 county courthouses. This intranet will enable state and
local government agencies to serve citizens better and more efficiently.
The state's universities and colleges are beginning to use WEST
VIRGINIA 2001 for programs, such as interactive distance learning. A
teacher at Marshall University, for example, can instruct students at
multiple locations many miles away. The teacher and students are able to
see and hear one another and communicate as if they're in the same
Bell Atlantic has brought 25 college sites onto the new network, and
planning is underway to add four campuses this year. In addition, the
WEST VIRGINIA 2001 network is now serving two high schools'
distance learning needs.
In 1999, Bell Atlantic once again focused much of its attention on
enhancing educational opportunities in the state. Through the WORLD
SCHOOLsm initiative, pioneered by Bell Atlantic and the West Virginia
Department of Education, all 829 public schools in the state now have
high-speed links to the Internet. Bell Atlantic also has provided 20 private
schools in West Virginia with high-speed internet access.
The company invested $42,030 in WORLD SCHOOL grants to teachers
who are finding creative ways to use the Internet to enhance education.
Last year, Bell Atlantic reduced prices on several of its services, saving
West Virginians more than $3.5 million annually. These latest cuts,
combined with price reductions from past years, currently save Bell
Atlantic's West Virginia customers more than $75 million a year over
1988 prices. During the last decade, prices charged for various services to
residential customers plummeted by nearly 40 percent.
In addition, with the aid of Federal Universal Service Funds, Bell Atlantic
is slashing by at least 16 percent the prices most West Virginia customers
pay for local service.
The Year Ahead
"The new millennium brings exciting changes for our
company," Bone said. "In a few months, Bell Atlantic - West
Virginia will become part of a merged Bell Atlantic and GTE. This will
lead to more innovative products and services, and provide greater
resources for the deployment of new technologies."
Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and
industry. With nearly 44 million telephone access lines and 12 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.