As it concluded its first review of an alternative rate plan for local telephone service, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved a series of telecommunications network upgrades and associated network modernization program for Bell Atlantic-New Jersey.
The original rate plan, approved in 1993, had combined the promise of a modernized telephone infrastructure with rate deregulation for certain competitive services and a freeze on rates for residential phone service. (See, Re New Jersey Bell Tel. Co., 143 PUR4th 297 (N.J.B.R.C.1993.)
Now, however, as part of the recent rate review, Bell Atlantic has agreed to accelerate its modernization efforts. The estimated benefit to ratepayers from the acceleration is $176 million and includes:
• $55 million for the accelerated deployment of a statewide telecommunications network, based on an asynchronous transfer mode, for the benefit of all schools, libraries and urban areas in the state;
• $25 million in customer equipment to connect all schools and libraries to the LEC network;
• $50 million in savings to schools and libraries from aggressively discounted services;
• $28 million in savings to customers due to foregoing formula-based rate adjustments under the existing alternative rate plan; and
• an anticipated annualized benefit to lifeline customers of $18 million.
Re Bell Atlantic-New Jersey, Docket No. TX96100707, June 10, 1997 (N.J.B.P.U.P).