>New law means changes for Texas long distance customers

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IRVING, Texas - A new law goes into effect today in Texas that will prevent residential telephone customers from having their local service disconnected for not paying their long distance bills. However, customers can be blocked from making long distance calls for non-payment of long distance bills at the request of any long distance company. Once imposed, long distance toll block can only be removed by the long distance company that requested the block.

"We want to make sure our customers are aware that they can be prevented from placing long distance calls at the request of any long-distance provider or even by alternative "dial-around" providers the customer may use infrequently for past due long distance charges. Customers will need to contact the long distance company to resolve billing issues - not their local telephone provider," said GTE Regional President Larry Atwell.

The Public Utility Commission of Texas adopted the new rules late last year in response to legislation included in Senate Bills 86 and 560 that were passed in 1999. The legislation was intended to prevent people from having their local telephone service disconnected because they didn't pay their long-distance charges. Service can still be disconnected if customers don't pay their charges for basic local service or if a customer attempts toll fraud.

About GTE

With 1999 revenues of more than $25 billion, GTE is a leading telecommunications provider with one of the industry's broadest arrays of products and services. In the United States, GTE provides local service in 28 states and wireless service in 18 states, as well as nationwide long-distance, directory, and internetworking services ranging from dial-up Internet access for residential and small-business consumers to Web-based applications for Fortune 500 companies. Outside the United States, the company serves customers on five continents. Additional information about GTE can be obtained at http://www.gte.com.

GTE's community and philanthropic programs target excellence in education, particularly math, science, technology and literacy. GTE also supports job training, delivery of health and human services, and the arts. The company's newest program is GTE Reads, a public charity designed to create public awareness, increase fundraising and support organizations dedicated to improving America's literacy levels. GTE customers can contribute to GTE Reads by checking off a box on their bill. Others can contribute through GTE Superpages.com http://www.superpages.com.

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