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SOUTHERN BELL TO FILE STATEWIDE CALLING PLAN TO EXPAND LOCAL CALLING AREAS, REDUCE RATES BY $17 MILLION

 RALEIGH, N.C., Jan. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern Bell will file tomorrow a plan with the North Carolina Utilities Commission to dramatically expand local calling areas and reduce rates by $17 million for more than a million customers.
 If approved, the Local Plus calling plan would more than double current local calling areas and cut in half the current rates to call those areas.
 "Our customers have asked for expanded local calling areas," said J. Billie Ray, president of Southern Bell operations in North Carolina. "With this statewide plan, we are saying 'We hear you.'"
 The Commission ordered telephone companies in 1987 to evaluate calling plans that provide alternatives to flat-rate Extended Area Service.
 Since then, Southern Bell has researched and developed those alternative plans. More than 700,000 Southern Bell customers currently participate in trials across North Carolina. The Local Plus plan would ensure that all Southern Bell customers enjoy the benefits of expanded calling and reduced prices, Ray said.
 "We believe this plan strikes a balance between customers who want to call neighboring communities at reduced rates and those customers who don't need or want to pay for the expanded calling of others," Ray said.
 With traditional Extended Area Service, rates for calls between nearby communities are eliminated, but everybody's local service rates go up. It requires all customers to pay for the extended calling needs of a few.
 But under this new plan, only those customers who call into the new area will pay the cost. And they will only pay half the cost of a current call.
 The hallmark of the Local Plus plan is a radius of about 40 miles, which is drawn around the exchange to create the expanded local calling area to bring together communities. Calls into the new local service area will be dialed using only seven digits, instead of the 10 now required, and will be billed at 50% less than the current rate.
 Calls within the exchange, which are currently dialed with seven digits and are part of the regular monthly bill, will not be affected.
 "The result of this plan will be that most customers will see a reduction in their phone bill," Ray said.
 The plan also will include a premium flat-rate option, which will allow a customer to make unlimited calls within the entire expanded area, but at an additional cost of between $12 and $30 per month, depending upon location.
 "Local Plus is the result of the lessons we have learned from five different pilot projects we have conducted on similar plans in different parts of the state during the past several years," Ray said. "This plan incorporates all those things customers told us they wanted, such as a premium service option and seven-digit dialing."
 The North Carolina Utilities Commission must approve the plan before it can be offered to the public. Ray said implementation would come about 12 months after approval by the Commission.
 -0- 1/13/94
 /CONTACT: Clifton Metcalf, 704-378-7261, or Paul Chambers, 704-378-0588, both of Southern Bell/


CO: Southern Bell ST: North Carolina IN: TLS SU:

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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 13, 1994
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