Originally created 02/16/02

BellSouth gets service tips



The level of service BellSouth is required to provide local competitors might soon rise, state regulators said Friday, as the company tries again to enter Georgia's long-distance market.

A recent six-month industry review - attended by representatives of BellSouth, local competitors and the Georgia Public Service Commission - yielded several suggestions to raise performance measurements, which result in heavy fines if not met.

"There will be some changes," commission member Leon Bowles said. "If BellSouth backslides, it will have to pay penalties for failure to treat the (competitors) correctly."

The changes deal mainly with the speed and efficiency with which BellSouth processes orders from competitive local exchange carriers, or CLECs, such as Birch Telecom and KMC Telecom in Augusta.

BellSouth paid millions of dollars to the commission and CLECs last year in performance measurement penalties. CLECs say these standards must be more rigorous before the company is allowed to sell long-distance service.

The commission will decide sometime next month which recommendations to adopt.

"These changes, if adopted by the (commission), will go a long way toward bringing the appropriate rigor to the evaluation of BellSouth's performance as a vendor to CLECs," said John Ivanuska, Birch's vice president for regulatory affairs.

BellSouth representatives say they support the six-month industry review process by which its performance measurements are evaluated.

"It's a collaborative effort between the commission and the industry," BellSouth Georgia President Phil Jacobs said. "We are committed to the whole process of performance measures - that is the primary mechanism the commission has to make sure once we get in (the long-distance market) we don't backslide. We support that."

Reach John Bankston at (706) 823-3352 or john.banks@augustachronicle.com.