In a move intended to spur local telephone competition in Maryland, the Public Service Commission has ordered Bell Atlantic Corp. to give its rivals easier access to the company's local telephone network.
Long-distance companies such as AT&T Corp. and MCI WorldCom Inc. are among the firms trying to enter the local market that Bell Atlantic dominates. However, it would be prohibitively expensive for any company to duplicate an entrenched local phone network such as Bell Atlantic's.
Therefore, would-be rivals of Bell Atlantic generally have to buy access to Bell Atlantic's network in order to provide local service. The case before the commission was about the terms of that access.
The long-distance companies wanted Bell Atlantic to provide wires, switches and other elements of its local telephone network to its rivals in customized bundles. Bell Atlantic would prefer that its rivals combine those elements themselves.
In an order handed down late Monday, the commission sided with the long-distance companies, stating that Bell Atlantic must bundle its network elements in the manner requested by its rivals. Bell Atlantic said it will take the matter to court.
"We believe the commission took the right step," said AT&T spokesman Ritch Blasi. "It puts customers a step closer to actually having a choice of local telephone providers."
"We're extremely disappointed in the commission's order," said John Dillon, Bell Atlantic's vice president for external affairs.
Dillon said that even without the new bundling requirements, "competitors have plenty of opportunity to serve residential and business customers today."
Pub Date: 11/05/98