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 OMAHA, Neb., Dec. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- In a petition of sweeping significance, MFS Intelenet, Inc. will request Friday that the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Pennsylvania implement recent legislation authorizing the company to operate as a competitive local telephone exchange carrier in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh metropolitan areas. MFS Intelenet is a subsidiary of MFS Communications Company, Inc. (MFS).
 According to MFS, such action would enhance Pennsylvania's ability to compete with other states in retaining and attracting business necessary for continued employment and economic growth. Earlier this year, MFS Intelenet began offering such competitive local exchange services, including integrated local, long distance and facilities management to small and medium-sized business customers in New York City. MFS Intelenet now seeks to offer similar services in Pennsylvania's leading business centers.
 In its application filed today with the PUC, MFS Intelenet requests that it be granted a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, authorizing the company to operate as a local exchange telecommunications company. Additionally, the company petitions the Commission to establish specific policies and requirements for the interconnection of competing local exchange networks and to direct the Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania (Bell) to deal with MFS Intelenet as it now does with other independent telephone companies such as GTE and Alltel, a standing known in the industry as "co-carrier" status.
 "With its petition, MFS Intelenet is inviting the Pennsylvania PUC to join the vanguard of far-sighted regulatory agencies that have created conditions under which both incumbent carriers and new entrants can compete freely and fairly in the local exchange to provide all forms of telecommunications services," said Royce Holland, MFS president. "Given Pennsylvania's emphasis on employment and economic development, it is appropriate that the PUC take action to further local telephone exchange competition and to accelerate the growth of the telecommunications infrastructure.
 "Characterized until now by monopoly services and little change with a landscape ruled by lumbering Bell System dinosaurs, the local exchange industry is undergoing fundamental change," said Holland. "Replacing it is a new age of local telephone service competition furthering the public interest by reducing costs, increasing efficiency, stimulating technological innovation and increasing the range, variety and utility of telecommunications services offered to users.
 "Favorable action by the PUC on this petition will result in the development of a world-class telecommunications infrastructure giving Pennsylvania a tremendous advantage in attracting information-intensive computer and high technology businesses," he added. "Equally important, this infrastructure will be financed by private capital and not on the backs of Pennsylvania ratepayers and taxpayers."
 MFS Intelenet's request follows on the heels of actions in New York -- and under consideration in a handful of other states -- allowing entry of competitors into formerly monopoly controlled local telephone services.
 Local Exchange Competition Will Promote The Public Interest
 Holland noted that Pennsylvania telecommunications policymakers have already laid the foundation for meaningful and cost-effective competition in the local exchange. "Our action is entirely in keeping with Chapter 30 of the Public Utility Code," said Holland. "This was recently adopted by the Pennsylvania Legislature to encourage competitive telephone services by allowing the commission to certify more than one provider of exchange services where there is market demand.
 "Clearly contemplating equality between local exchange carriers -- or co-carrier status -- Chapter 30 recognizes competition for local exchange services as being essential to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's economic development," he said. "The public interest requires that all users of telecommunications services be able to communicate with all other users, and with all locations in the state."
 According to Holland, the major elements of such a comprehensive interconnection policy would include:
 -- Expanded interconnection to all functions of the local exchange network;
 -- Equal access, as a co-carrier, to blocks of telephone numbers, enabling MFS Intelenet to assign numbers and route customers' calls directly rather than through a Bell switch; and
 -- Reciprocal call termination and access charge arrangements causing all carriers to use government sanctioned rates to compensate each other for completing calls that originate on a competitor's network.
 Holland pointed out that some embryonic competition does exist in Pennsylvania for specialized telecommunications services used almost entirely by large businesses and government users. In fact, MFS has operated fiber optic networks in Philadelphia since 1989 and Pittsburgh since 1990. However, there are few alternatives today for small and medium-sized business customers. Adoption of MFS Intelenet's petition will bring the opportunity for competitive alternatives to these important customers that make up the critical backbone of Pennsylvania's economy, and which the company believes represent more than half of all business communications.
 According to Holland, MFS Intelenet services will include basic access to the public switched telephone network (i.e., dial tone lines, Centrex-like access lines and private branch exchange services); local and long-distance calling; operator services; data transfer services; and a variety of ancillary service options.
 The nation's largest Competitive Access Provider, MFS now has networks in 14 major metropolitan areas, including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The company has also announced construction of new networks in San Jose-Silicon Valley, Tampa and London, as well as definitive agreements to acquire existing networks in Albany, Buffalo, Rochester and St. Louis.
 "By acceptance of the MFS Intelenet initiative, the commission can ensure that the real and substantial benefits of competition, which have been proven over the last decade in the long distance and terminal equipment markets, are extended to businesses of all sizes in Pennsylvania."
 -0- 12/9/93
 /CONTACT: Josh Howell or Steve Ingish of MFS Communications Co., 708-218-7316/

CO: MFS Intelenet, Inc.; Public Utility Commission of Pennsylvania ST: Pennsylvania IN: TLS UTI SU:

PS -- NY072 -- 2347 12/09/93 16:27 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 9, 1993

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