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 PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania moved another step closer today to the telephone network of the future -- and with no increases in basic local telephone service rates for nearly three years.
 Bell of Pennsylvania filed a petition with the Public Utility Commission (PUC) requesting an alternative form of regulation as provided for under Act 67, the new Pennsylvania Telecommunications Legislation.
 The Act was approved overwhelmingly by the Legislature in late June and signed into law by Acting Gov. Mark Singel on July 8.
 Bell's plan, which is fully responsive to the new law, contains three major elements:
 -- A price stability mechanism
 -- A competitive services proposal
 -- A network modernization plan
 The plan provides Bell of Pennsylvania with the regulatory framework and incentives necessary to build a modern telecommunications network throughout the state by the year 2015.
 "Our plan contains important benefits and safeguards for consumers, large and small businesses, and our competitors," said Daniel J. Whelan, Bell's vice president, regulatory and government relations.
 "For consumers, it means true price stability and a wide array of new services in the future. It also means the opportunity to live and work in a state with a healthier economic development climate and improved medical, health care and education services, to name a few -- regardless of whether they live in a city, suburb, or rural area," Whelan said.
 "We believe that our plan is superior to the traditional rate base/rate of return method. From a price stability and consumer protection standpoint, it's more efficient, less costly, and more closely attuned to the economic factors which affect both consumers and the company," he added.
 Under the Bell plan, there will be no price increases for basic local telephone services for nearly three years -- until after June 30, 1996. These services include basic local exchange service for both residence and business customers; TOUCH TONE dialing service; and related services such as service ordering, installation, disconnection and restoration.
 After that date, the most that these services can increase in price is the rate of inflation (as determined by a formula published by the U.S. Department of Commerce) minus 2.25 percent. The formula is called the Gross Domestic Product-Fixed Weight Price Index, or GDPPI.
 As an example, if the inflation rate for a given year is 4 percent, the most these services can increase the following year is 1.75 percent (4 percent minus 2.25 percent).
 "For Pennsylvania, our plan means more jobs, the ability to compete more effectively in economic development, and an improved quality of life for its citizens," Whelan said.
 "For large and small businesses, other telecommunications companies, and our competitors -- our plan provides for price stability, a fully open network, equal access, and safeguards against unfair competitive practices," he added.
 Bell proposed that the following services be designated as "competitive," and removed from price and earnings regulation:
 -- Director Advertising and White Pages bold listings
 -- Billing Services (provided to interexchange carriers)
 -- CENTREX services (business switchboard-type service)
 -- Paging
 -- Repeat Call
 -- Speed Calling
 "We already have substantial competition in each of these services, and our filing demonstrates that each of these services meets the legislation's criteria for competitive services. It's important to note that the PUC still retains oversight of these services in the areas of privacy, quality and safety," Whelan said.
 Regarding the network modernization schedule, the company commits to build and deploy the modern telecommunications network -- known as the "universal broadband network" -- on the following percentage completion schedule:
 1993 1998 2003 2008 2013 2015
 0 pct. 7 pct. 24 pct. 63 pct. 95 pct. 100 pct.
 Throughout the construction period, Bell plans a balanced deployment of the network across urban, suburban and rural areas. The plan identifies the engineering design guidelines regarding growth, replacement of old equipment, and market/consumer demand.
 The network modernization plan will be updated every two years, as required by the legislation.
 Through thousands of pages of documentation and supporting data, the company provided evidence to show that its plan enhances economic development while ensuring price stability of basic telephone service, protects consumers and assures that no class of customers or providers of competitive services will be disadvantaged, and includes comprehensive service quality standards.
 The PUC will conduct public input hearings on the filing and is required under the Act to render a decision by June 30, 1994. Consumers and other interested parties will have the opportunity to review the plan at locations throughout the state and provide comment at the PUC hearings.
 "We believe our plan complies with all provisions and the intent of the legislation. We are hopeful that the Commission and the public will respond favorably to it," Whelan said.
 Bell of Pennsylvania is a subsidiary of Bell Atlantic Corporation (NYSE: BEL). Based in Philadelphia, Bell Atlantic is also the parent company of New Jersey Bell, Diamond State Telephone (Delaware), and the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Companies of Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C., companies which provide a full array of local exchange telecommunications services in the mid-Atlantic region.
 -0- 10/1/93
 /CONTACT: Shirley Risoldi (Pittsburgh) or Sharon Shaffer (Philadelphia) of Bell of Pennsylvania, 800-491-0190/

CO: Bell of Pennsylvania ST: Pennsylvania IN: TLS SU:

JM-MP -- PH012 -- 7750 10/01/93 11:26 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 1, 1993

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