Saturday, May 29, 1999

GTE: Merger won’t
affect service

By Mary Adamski


The proposed merger of GTE Corp. and Bell Atlantic Corp. would have no adverse impact on GTE Hawaiian Tel operations, the companies told the state Public Utilities Commission.

The merger of its parent company "will in no way affect the continuity of GTE Hawaiian Tel, its operations or the jurisdiction of this commission," Hawaiian Tel attorney Blane Yokota said in documents filed yesterday with the commission.

The $82.8 billion merger, which would create the nation's largest local telephone company, has been cleared by the U.S. Justice Department.

The Public Utilities Commission is one of several state regulatory agencies which also must rule on the merger.

The companies filed a rebuttal to statements filed earlier this month by state consumer advocate Michael Wilson, who said customers won't see better telephone service and lower rates from the merger. He asked the utilities commission to set conditions before approving the deal.

Wilson said the corporation should lower rates or refund money to Hawaii customers reflecting a share of the savings to result from the merged operations.

GTE Hawaiian Tel asserts that that would be "unnecessary and unprecedented," said spokesman Brian Blevins.

The commission already has a regulation that prevents the telephone company from exceeding the authorized rate of return on regulated services, he said.

"The consumer advocate's claim that the merger might hurt service quality is mere speculation," the company told the commission.

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