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 RALEIGH, N.C., May 10 /PRNewswire/ -- The world's fastest wide-area, multimedia communications network was announced for North Carolina today by Gov. James B. Hunt.
 Traveling at the speed of light over hair-thin optical fibers, the North Carolina Information Highway will be able to simultaneously transmit computer words and graphics, television-like video and voice communications beginning in 1994.
 Initial applications for the technology in North Carolina will be for video-based distance learning in the state's school system; remote medical imaging and diagnostics; and management of state government systems.
 "This first Information Highway gives North Carolina tremendous opportunities to serve all of our people across this state," Gov. Hunt said. "The highway will give us a dramatic new chance to educate our children, provide medical services, create jobs, streamline our criminal justice system and increase the efficiency of our government.
 "A young person in a rural coastal county will have a chance to learn calculus from a top teacher in the state, and an elderly resident in the mountains can get consultation with a top medical specialist in another part of the state," Gov. Hunt said. "The Information Highway makes it possible by simultaneously transmitting words and graphics, television-quality video and voice communications from one end of the state to the other."
 Because the pictures, sounds and computer data will reach their destinations almost instantly and in enormous quantities, the system will be highly adaptable and economical.
 The key to the telecommunications network is the revolutionary switching technology known as Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM). The North Carolina network -- which is based on the ATM technology -- will be the result of a joint design-and-deployment effort undertaken by Southern Bell, a BellSouth (NYSE: BLS) company, GTE and Carolina Telephone.
 "You should think of ATM technology as a series of super highways stacked on top of each other, with each element of traffic conceivably being of a different type and moving at a different speed," said J. Billie Ray Jr., president of Southern Bell's North Carolina operations. "Today, you need an individual communications path for each one. However, with ATM switching, you immediately have available literally thousands of unique yet compatible send-receive options. That eliminates the need for separate paths for each."
 "A single optical fiber used by our Information Highway will be capable of transmitting the equivalent of more than 30,000 simultaneous communications. And it will send digital computer data so fast that an entire encyclopedia can be transmitted in the time it takes to say 'the entire Encyclopedia Britannica,'" Gov. Hunt explained.
 Using the 33-volume Encyclopedia Britannica as a yardstick, with the communications switching technology available in 1970, sending that entire set of reference books between sites would have required 84 hours. With the switching available today that same stack of information would require 13 hours to transfer. With this new ATM switching, a mere 4.7 seconds will be required.
 BellSouth has committed to deploying the ATM mega-switches throughout its nine-state region, five of which will be placed in North Carolina. The initial phase of the Information Highway is expected to be operational in mid-1994.
 "Providing widespread, advanced technologies featuring broad customer applications is a key element of BellSouth's strategy for the next decade," Ray said. "ATM technology is fast, efficient and immensely flexible. It truly is a customer-driven technology, and that fits very nicely with our service philosophy."
 "GTE is extremely proud to work with the state of North Carolina in this network deployment," said Gerald Dinsmore, South Area president for GTE Telephone Operations. "The use of ATM switches in this network is a natural evolution of GTE's existing digital network. This enhanced network will allow us the capabilities to provide an array of advanced telecommunications services for our customers."
 GTE initially will be placing ATM switches in Research Triangle Park and Durham, with plans to add a third switch in the western part of the state as locations are identified for the network.
 Wayne Peterson, president and CEO of Carolina Telephone, said: "Several years ago, we formed an informal partnership with the Utilities Commission and the Public Staff to ensure that future networks would meet future needs. As a result, we dedicated a large part of our $130 million-per-year construction program to fiber development and digital technology throughout eastern North Carolina.
 "Within two months, we will be 100 percent digital switching with nearly 2,000 route miles of fiber optics in service. In essence, the groundbreaking for our portion of the Information Highway has already taken place. We are ready for the next phase and look forward to an expanded partnership."
 Gov. Hunt added that "this technology will set the standard for communications as we move into the 21st Century. In the past, we have been used to small steps forward. This, however, is a giant leap into the future, and one that will benefit all of us."
 An additional feature of the Information Highway is that it will use the most advanced communications standard which is called the Synchronous Optical Network, or SONET.
 SONET is a new worldwide standard for transmission of a wide variety of light signals over optical fiber. SONET allows different fiber systems to interconnect efficiently and to do so with an unprecedented level of accuracy and customer control.
 BellSouth's ATM switches destined for North Carolina's use will be manufactured by Fujitsu Network Switching of America, headquartered in Raleigh, where the manufacturing contract was recently signed.
 BellSouth's initial switch sites will be: Asheville, Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh and Wilmington. In addition to use of ATM switches in North Carolina, GTE also recently announced the trial of ATM switches in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, with plans to deploy ATM technology in all of its operating areas throughout the United States in 1994. Carolina Telephone's initial switches will be located in Greenville and Fayetteville.
 BellSouth Telecommunications, Inc., with headquarters in Atlanta, provides telecommunications services in the nine-state BellSouth region. BellSouth Telecommunications does business as Southern Bell in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, and as South Central Bell in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.
 GTE Telephone Operations is the largest U.S.-based local telephone company, providing phone service through more than 21 million access lines in portions of 40 states, British Columbia, Quebec, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. It also markets telecommunications products and services and supplies computer software and data processing. GTE Telephone Operations, based in Irving, Texas, had total revenues of $15.9 billion in 1992. Its parent organization, GTE Corp. (NYSE: GTE), is the fourth-largest publicly owned telecommunications company in the world.
 Carolina Telephone, with more than 800,000 customers in 50 North Carolina counties, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Kansas City-based Sprint Corp. (NYSE: FON). It is also the largest unit of Sprint's four- state Mid Atlantic Telecom Region, headquartered near Wake Forest, N.C. Sprint is a diversified international telecommunications company that provides long-distance, cellular and local exchange services.
 -0- 5/10/93
 /CONTACT: Les Boney of the North Carolina Office of the Governor, 919-733-5612; Clifton Metcalf, 704-378-7261, or Bob Morrow, 404-529-8169, both of BellSouth Telecommunications; Mike Flanagan, 214-718-4952, or Cindy Gardiner, 919-687-9421, both of GTE; or Jim Nichols of Carolina Telephone, 919-554-7610/

CO: BellSouth Telecommunications, Inc.; GTE Telephone Operations;
 Carolina Telephone ST: North Carolina IN: TLS SU: PDT

BN-RA -- AT011 -- 6726 05/10/93 18:04 EDT
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Date:May 10, 1993

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