Bell plan for long distance readied Service could start initially in Md., N.Y.

Communications

September 09, 1997|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

WASHINGTON -- Bell Atlantic Corp. plans to ask federal regulators by the beginning of 1998 for approval to offer long-distance telephone service to customers in two states -- in New York and in Pennsylvania, Maryland or West Virginia.

Federal Communications Commission approval is expected by the middle of next year, Ivan Seidenberg, Bell Atlantic vice chairman and chief operating officer, said yesterday.

He then expects Bell Atlantic to be granted permission to offer long-distance service to customers in its entire 13-state region and Washington a year later.

"We hope to get our federal filing done [to enter long distance service] probably by the end of the year, but probably more realistically by the first of next year," Seidenberg said.

The regional Bell telephone companies are permitted to offer long-distance phone service to customers in their regions only after they have proved to federal regulators that they have fulfilled a 14-point competitive checklist and that they face real competition for their business and residential customers. So far, no Bell company has been able to prove it.

Pennsylvania and Maryland are "the states we're furthest along in terms of check-list compliance," Seidenberg said, explaining the choice of moving forward with their long-distance application in one of those states. "But it doesn't mean we'll rule out West Virginia. We're looking for one of the largest states."

Pub Date: 9/09/97

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