N.Y. Long-Distance Deal Would Aid Cable


New York state cable operators would benefit from a
regulatory scheme that could make Bell Atlantic Corp. the first RBOC to offer in-region
long-distance service.

The regional Bell operating company last week agreed to
implement state-mandated terms and conditions for opening its local market to competitors
prior to asking the Federal Communications Commission to approve its application for entry
into the long-distance market.

In exchange, the New York State Public Service Commission
said it would endorse Bell Atlantic's application, providing that the company had met
all pre-entry requirements.

Most important for cable, the commission's plan calls
for monitoring Bell Atlantic's service to new entrants after it's allowed into
long distance, thereby ensuring that the telco doesn't undercut competition.

That's particularly important to Woodbury, N.Y.-based
Cablevision Systems Corp., which is offering phone service to some 1,000 commercial
accounts on Long Island, N.Y.

Under the plan drafted by the PSC, Bell Atlantic cannot
alter Cablevision's interconnection agreements in the future, and it must continue to
provide quality service.

This will be assured by outside independent testing of its
operations-support system, which will ensure that changes are made to accommodate
ordering, billing, customer migration, order changes and maintenance and repair.

"We think that progress has been made on the issues
that are important to our business, because our service to our customers is affected by
their service," said Lisa Rosenblum, Cablevision's vice president of regulatory
affairs. "This reflects a coherent scheme for monitoring post-intra-LATA
[local-access and transport area] entry."

Rick Cimerman, director of telecommunications policy for
the National Cable Television Association, said the PSC's involvement in the process
drove Bell Atlantic to make the changes that were needed to open the New York local
exchange to competition.

In the past, other states had simply rubber-stamped
"absurd" FCC long-distance applications filed by their local RBOCs, Cimerman