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PCS Decision Wrong For Deleware

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PSC Decision Wrong For Delaware

Bell Atlantic Appeals Ruling That Jeopardizes Future Investments in Telecommunications Network

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Ells Edwards



Sandra Arnette



WILMINGTON, Del. -- Bell Atlantic-Delaware today asked the U.S.

District Court for the District of Delaware to overturn a Public

Service Commission decision that will reduce incentives to invest in

Delaware's telecommunications network.

The company also said the order is unfair to Bell Atlantic because it

forces Bell Atlantic to subsidize its competitors in the local market.

At issue are the ground rules and rates under which Bell Atlantic will

make its telephone network available for use and resale by its

competitors. Bell Atlantic proposed reasonable rates that were rejected

by the PSC. The commission then set its own rates that are well below

costs the company will incur in providing its network to competitors.

"If this order stands, it will put Delaware's leadership in

telecommunications technology at risk," said Joshua W. Martin III,

president and CEO of Bell Atlantic-Delaware. "The rates approved by

the PSC are so low they will eliminate any incentive for Bell Atlantic

or its competitors to invest in Delaware's telephone network. This

would defeat one of the primary goals of the federal

Telecommunications Act of 1996.

"Bell Atlantic strongly supports local competition in Delaware,"

Martin said. "This appeal will not delay competition. Any company

that wishes to compete with Bell Atlantic in Delaware can purchase

Bell Atlantic facilities and services at rates approved by the PSC

until this case is resolved.

"However, the public interest is best served by rates that recognize

the realities of the marketplace, not rates that create an artificial

advantage for our competitors. Telecommunications giants such as

AT&T, MCI and Sprint do not need to be subsidized to compete in local

phone service in Delaware." he said.

Martin said the PSC decision is at odds with rates established in

neighboring states and the public policy consensus in Delaware, which

encourages investment in telecommunications technology.

"The legislature and Governor Carper recognize that Delaware's economy

is linked to the future of telecommunications," Martin said. "By

adopting rates that discourage progress, regulators are out of step

with the vision of Delaware's elected officials."

The new Bell Atlantic (NYSE: BEL) is at the forefront of the new

communications, information and entertainment industry. With 40

million telephone access lines and 5.5 million wireless customers

worldwide, the corporation -- formed through the merger of Bell

Atlantic and NYNEX -- is the premier provider of advanced wireline

voice and data services in the eastern United States and a market

leader in wireless services. Bell Atlantic also is the world's

largest provider of directory information and one of the world's

largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with

operations and investments in 21 countries.