FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 8, 1996size = +1>
WITH TELECOM REFORM BILL SIGNED INTO LAW,
BELL ATLANTIC PREPARES FOR NEW TELECOMMUNICATIONS FUTURE
Calls On Industry, Government To Move
ARLINGTON, VA -- Bell Atlantic executives today praised the
long-awaited telecommunications reform bill signed by President Clinton
as pro-consumer legislation that will mean wider choice, more control and
lower prices almost immediately.
Bell Atlantic Chairman and CEO Raymond W. Smith called the new
legislation "historic," noting that the signing is but the
first step. "Today's action places a responsibility on all of us
-- local exchange companies, long-distance carriers, cable companies and
government agencies -- to work quickly, aggressively and cooperatively
to bring life to the bill.
"Bell Atlantic is moving forward to carry out the intent of
the legislation," Smith said, "and we look to our industry
partners and government to do the same.
"In the last two decades, American consumers have lost out
because of delays in bringing new communications technology to the
public," said Smith. "These delays have cost jobs and they have
cost consumers real dollars. The legislation signed today cuts much of
the government red tape that has been largely responsible."
Bell Atlantic Vice Chairman James G. Cullen, who has been at the
center of efforts to reform telecommunications law for several years,
noted Bell Atlantic expects strong competition for local telephone
service as a result of the legislation.
"Competition is already a reality in most of our business,
but we are moving aggressively to retain our customers. This new law
gives us the flexibility to offer our products in new ways that will make
Bell Atlantic service an even better value than it is today," Cullen
said. Under the new law, Bell Atlantic will be able to offer many new
services, like long-distance service and video programming, that
regulators had prohibited the company from offering in the past.
Cullen pointed out that Bell Atlantic is well positioned to
succeed in the new telecommunications industry environment. "Bell
Atlantic has been preparing for this day for the last decade," he
said. "We have continually upgraded our communications network, and
today we have the technology in place that will let us respond to the
public's needs quickly -- whether the need is for enhanced telephone
service, high-speed computer connections or video for business, health
care or entertainment."
The long-distance business presents a major new opportunity for
Bell Atlantic. Until now, Bell Atlantic and other regional telephone
companies have been banned from offering nearly all long-distance
services. Only in some limited circumstances has Bell Atlantic been able
to offer long-distance service -- with special court permission -- to
some wireless customers.
"We'll be offering Bell Atlantic long-distance service in
states outside our traditional territory within the next few
months," Cullen promised. "Until now, long-distance service
has been dominated by the big three long-distance companies. They've
kept prices high for consumers while racking up higher and higher profits
themselves. That ends today," he said.
Under the telecommunications law, the company is still prohibited
from offering long-distance service within its region -- New Jersey,
Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the
District of Columbia. In order to be permitted to offer long-distance
service in those areas, Bell Atlantic must first meet a checklist
designed to assure the local telephone market is open to competitors.
The company has vowed to move quickly to meet those requirements so it
can qualify to offer long-distance service to its local exchange
In addition to being ready to offer long-distance service, Bell
Atlantic is a leader in bringing video services to users of its network.
The telecommunications reform just signed into law removes a number of
barriers to quickly providing that service to businesses, health care
providers or anyone seeking alternatives to today's monopoly cable TV
"The bill President Clinton signed today sweeps away the old
regulatory boundaries between cable and telephone, between long-distance
and local exchange companies," said Smith. "It heralds an
exciting win-win era for the consumer and for the telecommunications
industry as well."
Bell Atlantic Corporation (NYSE: BEL) is at the forefront of the
new communications, entertainment and information industry. In the
mid-Atlantic region, the company is the premier provider of local
telecommunications and advanced services. Globally, it is one of the
largest investors in the high-growth wireless communication marketplace.
Bell Atlantic also owns a substantial interest in Telecom Corporation of
New Zealand and is actively developing high-growth national and
international business opportunities in all phases of the industry.
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