Teleport girding for phone wars Company is unveiling plans to expand its Maryland network

February 13, 1996|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

Teleport Communications Group, one of several companies moving to challenge Bell Atlantic Corp.'s grip on the local telephone market, will unveil plans today to spend $18 million to expand its telephone network in Maryland over the next two years.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke are expected to be on hand for a news conference as TCG outlines plans to move its East Coast and Baltimore-Washington regional offices to Maryland, bringing up to 50 jobs to the state.

Larry Bugden, TCG's regional vice president and general manager, said both the expansion and the relocation were influenced by Maryland's pro-competition regulatory policies.

A decision in December by the state Public Service Commission setting rates and rules for interconnection with the Bell Atlantic network encourages companies to build their own facilities in the state, he said.

Mr. Bugden said the company is not receiving any state or city financial incentives to relocate here.

"It's strictly a business opportunity, and we foresee that the state is going to grow," he said.

Mr. Bugden said TCG will locate its Eastern division headquarters, with about 10 jobs, in Annapolis.

He said its Baltimore-Washington-Northern Virginia regional office, with an eventual 30 to 40 jobs, would move to Baltimore.

The TCG executive added that the expansion will keep several hundred people working for the contractors that the company will use to build out the network. He said TCG will use Maryland contractors wherever it can.

Mr. Bugden said the project will install sophisticated switching equipment and extend TCG's existing network closer to Bell Atlantic offices, create new links with long-distance carriers and tie in directly to some business customers.

"This is the network that will be the backbone for everything we do," he said, adding that TCG would lay about 75 to 80 miles of fiber-optic cable this year and another 70 or so in 1997.

Most of the construction will take place in Baltimore and Baltimore, Montgomery, Prince George's, Harford, Howard and Anne Arundel counties, he said.

The company will not extend its network to individual homes as part of this project, Mr. Bugden said.

TCG is part of an alliance of Sprint Corp. and three large cable companies that plans to offer residential telephone service over existing cable networks, and the company will make an announcement later this year about plans for interconnecting with cable companies, he said.

Comcast Corp., which serves Baltimore, Howard and Harford counties, is a partner in the venture, as is Tele-Communications Inc., which serves Baltimore.

Mr. Bugden said TCG will also be announcing plans to build networks in the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia at the press conference, but he stressed that Maryland comes first.

"The regulatory climate there has not been as favorable as in Maryland," he said.

"They are going to be two years behind Maryland in development."

Mr. Bugden said Mr. Glendening and his staff had been "supportive" of the company's move to Maryland, but he reserved his most effusive praise for the PSC and its recent decision in the interconnection case brought by MFS Communications Co., another Bell Atlantic competitor. The decision was widely viewed as a setback for Bell Atlantic.

He said TCG would take that decision to the Federal Communications Commission and suggest its use as a model when the FCC writes the rules to implement the just passed telecommunications bill. "This is a case where a state could lead the nation," he said.

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