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Consumer Alert: Beware of Callers Bashing Bell Atlantic
Callers from AT&T Front Group 'Pennsylvanians for Local
Competition' Spreading Misinformation
October 19, 1998
PHILADELPHIA -- Pennsylvanians should beware of calls they may
receive from an AT&T front group bashing Bell Atlantic and the state of
local telephone competition.
The group, Pennsylvanians for Local Competition, was formed and funded
mainly by long distance titan AT&T, which is fighting to keep Bell Atlantic
from providing meaningful competition in the long distance market long
dominated by AT&T and MCI-Worldcom.
"This is just the latest step in the AT&T front group's campaign of
distortion and misinformation," said Daniel J. Whelan, president and CEO
of Bell Atlantic - Pennsylvania. "We have seen these AT&T-seeded groups
sprout like weeds across the Bell Atlantic service area and, indeed, across
The group is trying to hoodwink Pennsylvanians by gaining their support
for AT&T-inspired, distorted claims about Bell Atlantic and local phone
competition. In other states, similar front groups have released "surveys"
whose results predictably reflect AT&T's positions. And in another part of
this campaign, the group is bashing Bell Atlantic in broadcast and
"Such tactics support AT&T's main strategy -- to keep Bell Atlantic out of
the long distance business for as long as possible by claiming that we are
impeding competition for local phone service," said Whelan.
Nothing could be further from the truth, he added. "Today, dozens of
companies are competing for Pennsylvanians' local phone service from the
Ohio border to the Poconos," Whelan said. These companies are reselling
Bell Atlantic's phone services, leasing parts of our network or offering
phone service over their own networks.
Conspicuous by its absence is AT&T. "This communications giant seems
content to sit back and whine about how Bell Atlantic is keeping it from
competing, while it piles up long distance revenues," Whelan said. "And,
when AT&T does decide to compete, it's only for the most lucrative
"AT&T and MCI-Worldcom have no intention of seriously competing for
Pennsylvania consumers' local phone service," he said. "Residential
customers will see the full benefits of competition for local phone service
only when Bell Atlantic is able to offer long distance service, thereby
crashing the long distance giants' cozy little club.
"Full competition by all players for all telecommunications services will
bring the promise of the Telecommunications Act to all Pennsylvanians,"
said Whelan. "Tell that to Pennsylvanians for Local Competition's 'grass-
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.