URI to host free public forum Oct. 25 on state’s telecommunications market

KINGSTON, R.I. — October 6, 1999 — The University of Rhode Island’s Research Institute for Telecommunications and Information Marketing (RITIM) will hold a public forum on the state’s telecommunications industry Monday, Oct. 25. Titled, “Telephone Competition in Rhode Island: When, How and Who?” the program will run from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence. For further information, call 874-5065. “This is a free and open presentation from the existing and potential competitors regarding availability of voice services in the local Rhode Island market,” said Ruby Dholakia, professor of marketing and director of RITIM, which is housed in URI’s College of Business Administration. The panelists are: Michael Bellas, vice president of business services, Cox Communications; Donna Cupelo, president and CEO, Bell Atlantic – Rhode Island; Rob Shanahan, president, New England Voice and Data of Rhode Island (NEVD); Paul Vasington, commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy; Katherine P. White, general counsel and vice president, AT&T of New England. The program will also feature a “Presentation of Research on Rhode Island Business & Residential Customers’ Opinions regarding Local Competition by RITIM.” The moderator is Frank Prosnitz, editor of the Providence Business News. The program comes at an important time for the state, Dholakia said. “Rhode Island has started to take several measures to leverage its telecommunications infrastructure for economic development,” she said. “When the local market is served by several companies, the business community is positively affected by the competition among local service providers. When service to the residential market is included in the scope of activity, then the application of telecommunications infrastructure for various commercial purposes moves to a higher plane.” The RITIM program is unique because for the first time it will have the major players, current and potential, in the same room addressing the issue of local availability of phone services. Dholakia said the following issues are likely to be raised: Who among these competitors will offer voice and data services to the entire Rhode Island market? What are AT&T’s, Cox, NEVD’s plans? How will Bell Atlantic address the needs of the market? “This issue is of interest to many businesses for whom telecommunications is a key strategic input/advantage,” the URI professor said. “Residential customers are also looking for choices and want to know if the choices will come to Rhode Island soon. Political and economic development officials in the state who are trying to find out how to leverage the state’s infrastructure for economic development should also attend.” In addition to the panelists’ point of view, the program will present findings from two surveys conducted among residential and business customers in Rhode Island. This study was sponsored by state Public Utilities Commission in the summer of 1999. -xxx- For Further Information: Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116