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LOCAL PHONE BILLS WILL NOT INCREASE DUE TO HURRICANE ANDREW

 LOCAL PHONE BILLS WILL NOT INCREASE DUE TO HURRICANE ANDREW
 MIAMI, Sept. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern Bell announced today that it will not increase telephone rates to its customers in Florida in the wake of Hurricane Andrew.
 "Your local telephone rates will not go up as a result of Hurricane Andrew," said Joe Lacher, president of Southern Bell-Florida. "We all have suffered losses during this time and most of us continue to have issues which demand our attention. This is one less problem the people of Florida will have to deal with."
 While the exact cost has not been determined, damage estimates are in the $200 million range.
 Lacher cited the state's flexible regulatory rate structure as a principle reason for the company's decision not to pass hurricane related costs to its customers.
 "The progressive regulatory policies in Florida allow us to earn in good economic times and absorb losses in bad times. The concept behind the plan is risk and we accept that business philosophy," Lacher said. "This is just one example how this plan benefits our customers."
 A total of 2,600 telephone poles and more than 2 million feet of aerial cable were damaged during the hurricane. The rebuilding process will take 18 months to two years to complete. In the meantime, residents requesting it, will receive temporary service. Whenever possible the network will be rebuilt using underground line and the latest technology. This will give those in South Dade a state-of-the-art telecommunications network designed to perform even better in the future.
 "The best way to combat a natural disaster like this is to plan for it. We will take what we've learned from Hurricane Andrew and make adjustments to our network architecture to create a stronger and even more resilient system throughout the state," said Lacher.
 -0- 9/25/92
 /CONTACT: Spero Canton of Southern Bell, 305-530-5455/ CO: Southern Bell ST: Florida IN: TLS SU:


AW-JB -- FL014 -- 3664 09/25/92 17:08 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 25, 1992
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