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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).
FCC ENSURES BELL ATLANTIC COMPLIANCE WITH TERMS OF LONG DISTANCE APPROVAL; BELL ATLANTIC AGREES TO PAY UP TO $27 MILLION
Washington D.C. - Today the Federal Communications Commission entered into a
Consent Decree with Bell Atlantic-New York in connection with Bell Atlantic's loss or
mishandling of orders electronically submitted to the company by Bell Atlantic's local service
competitors. The FCC's enforcement action promotes local competition in New York by
ensuring that consumers will have additional choices and lower rates through expanded local
Bell Atlantic has agreed to make a voluntary payment to the United States Treasury of $3 million, with additional liability of up to $24 million. In addition, Bell Atlantic will file regular performance reports with the FCC regarding its compliance with specified performance measurements contained in the Consent Decree. These performance measurements were developed in consultation with the New York Public Service Commission.
As part of its authorization to provide long distance service in New York, Bell Atlantic is required to provide its competitors nondiscriminatory, unbundled access to certain pieces or "elements" of its network. However, Bell Atlantic has failed to process properly a large number of orders for such unbundled network elements in New York in the last two months. Specifically, Bell Atlantic has failed to provide competitors with various notifications concerning the status of certain types of electronic orders placed by competitors or otherwise failed to process properly those orders. On February 7, 2000, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau began an investigation into whether Bell Atlantic's problems in processing these orders may have violated section 271 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, as well as Bell Atlantic's authorization to provide long distance service in New York. The Consent Decree terminates that investigation, and does not prejudice the Commission's ability to take any enforcement action relating to Bell Atlantic's problems in this area if new material facts come to the Commission's attention or in response to a formal complaint. Nor does the consent decree limit the Commission's authority to consider any complaint that may be filed pursuant to section 208 or section 271 of the Communications Act, as amended, or to take any action in response to such complaint.
The Consent Decree creates incentives for Bell Atlantic to improve its performance in processing orders. In this regard, Bell Atlantic has also agreed to a plan of increasing payments if it fails to meet the performance measurements. Specifically, Bell Atlantic has agreed to voluntary payments of up to $24 million if it fails to meet the performance measurements for four consecutive weeks. Under the Consent Decree, Bell Atlantic has the option of avoiding any of these future payments by voluntarily suspending the enrollment of new long distance customers, and the marketing and promotion of long distance service, in New York.
Action by the Commission March 9, 2000, by Order (FCC 00-92). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth, and Powell; Commissioner Tristani dissenting and issuing a separate statement.
Enforcement Bureau contacts: John Winston (202) 418-7450 Richard Welch (202) 418-7450