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A Message About Long-Distance Proposal

July 03, 1994

As someone who's devoted years to the telecommunications industry, I am writing to clarify information that accompanied your story on Pacific Bell and in-state long-distance service ("Reaching Out," June 19).

Your article implies that Assembly Bill 3720, which would allow Pacific Bell to compete in the long-distance market, is merely being "pitched" as a jobs bill. Considering that the Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, is the principal co-sponsor of this bill--a detail that was omitted from the article--you can be sure that we believe jobs will be protected and created.

Although you correctly point out that Pacific Bell has proposed long-distance rates that will be a minimum of 20% lower than those of its competitors, you then dismiss the argument by saying opponents claim that rates will fall only temporarily and then rise about 9%. Even if that were true, and there is no evidence for that statement, wouldn't that still be a welcome rate decrease of 11% for consumers?

Most important, jobs will be created under AB 3720. Opponents again claim that jobs will merely shift to Pacific Bell from smaller long-distance carriers who, presumably, would be driven out of business by Pacific Bell's low rates. Even if that is true, which it's not, the question is rightly: Just who exactly should benefit from AB 3720, the phone industry or the California consumer?

Finally, the bill's language was specifically designed to ensure that all competitors have fair, non-discriminatory and mutually open access to exchange and inter-exchange facilities, through the implementation of strict consumer safeguards. It also specifically prohibits anti-competitive behavior involving unfair use of subscriber information or customer contact. AB 3720, in other words, strives to level the playing field for all competitors, both local and long-distance, and that is the true and proper role of this legislation.

The bottom line is that California's largest employer is attempting to create jobs and offer customers more long-distance choices at lower costs. That's why CWA co-sponsored AB 3720 and is pleased to be joined by scores of consumer, labor and business organizations who also support our efforts.

T. SANTORA

Legislative coordinator

Communications Workers of America

Sacramento

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