Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

AT&T: Not Enough Competition Foe Applauds PSC Ruling on BellSouth

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

AT&T: Not Enough Competition Foe Applauds PSC Ruling on BellSouth

Article excerpt

It's easy for consumers to judge whether BellSouth has enough

competition for local service, says Michael Tye, an AT&T

executive in Florida.

Take a look at the long-distance market.

Consumers face a barrage of television ads for long-distance

service and a steady stream of phone solicitations at night that

interrupt dinner, he said.

In their hunt for customers, long-distance salespeople

regularly staff booths at county fairs and flea markets in the

hopes of getting one company's customers to switch providers, he


"Look around at whether you have that kind of competition for

your local service," he said. "You don't have it."

On Monday, Florida's Public Service Commission sided with AT&T

and other telecommunication firms, voting unanimously against

finding BellSouth ready to enter the long-distance market.

"Congress, in its wisdom, determined that before BellSouth

could get into long-distance competition that there needs to be

actual competition in both the business and residential

service," said Julia Johnson, the chairwoman of the Public

Service Commission.

The 1996 Federal Telecommunications Act lets local companies

go into the long-distance business, but only after they prove

they have opened up their local service monopolies to


BellSouth hopes to be the first regional Bell company to

convince the Federal Communications Commission of that.

Regulators in South Carolina and Louisiana said BellSouth met

a 14-point FCC open-competition checklist, but getting the

thumbs up from state officials is only a first step.

The FCC is required to consult with state regulators before

making its decision, but will also hold its own hearings on

whether the public benefits if BellSouth sells long-distance

service, said Johnson. …

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