DE 98-107
                         BELL ATLANTIC
  Petition for EAS Expansion of Meredith and Ashland Exchanges
              Order Denying Poll on EAS Expansion
                    O R D E R   N O.  23,087
                       December 14, 1998
       APPEARANCES: Ms. Melissa Emery on behalf of the
     Petitioners; Charles Paone, New England Telephone & Telegraph
     Company; and, E. Barclay Jackson, Esq. for the Staff of the New
     Hampshire Public Utilities Commission.
               On June 11, 1998, Petitioners Alyssa Bergeron, Nicole
     Provencher and Melissa Emery (the Petitioners) filed with the New
     Hampshire Public Utilities Commission a request for expansion of
     the local calling area, also known as the Extended Area Service
     (EAS), for the 279 (Meredith) and 968 (Ashland) exchanges, to
     include the towns of Bristol, New Hampton, Danbury, Bridgewater,
     Alexandria, Hebron, Rumney and Groton.
               By Order of Notice issued on September 3, 1998, the
     Commission gave notice that the request for expansion would be
     considered in light of New Hampshire Admin. Rule Puc 410.  The
     Order of Notice also referred to the Commission's recent
     decision, announced in Order No. 22,861 (March 9, 1998), to
     require that Bell Atlantic implement two-way home and contiguous
     EAS.  As a result of Order No. 22,861, most of the exchanges that
     the Petitioners have requested are soon to be included in the
     Meredith and Ashland calling areas.  Only the towns of Danbury
     and Rumney remain to be considered.
               By adopting Puc 410, we intended to articulate in
     easily understood components the standards we have applied in
     assessing prior EAS petitions.  See, Order No. 23,037 in DE
     98-085, Order No. 22,831 in DE 97-193.   Those standards include
     a community of interest approach as discussed in FCC Docket No.
     96-45, In the Matter of Federal-State Joint Board on Universal
     Service, Report and Order FCC 97-157 (May 8, 1997).  Puc
     410.02(b)(8) requires a petitioner to provide a statement as to
     whether customers can call the following services without
     incurring toll charges:  relevant public schools, a general
     medical practitioner, a pharmacy, a banking facility, a central
     business area comprised of 12 or more businesses, and an internet
     provider.  The list in Puc 410.02(b)(8) defines, for our
     purposes, a community of interest.  If customers are unable to
     call three or more of the listed services, we are required by Puc
     410.03 to hold a hearing to decide whether customers should be
     polled on the proposed expansion.  In the instant case, because
     the petition was filed prior to final adoption of Puc 410, a
     hearing was held despite the fact that the Petitioners did not
     provide the required statement.
               At a duly noticed hearing on October 9, 1998, several
     of the Petitioners testified as to the existence of a community
     of interest between the Meredith, Ashland, Danbury and Rumney
     exchanges.  In addition, letters were read into the record in
     support of the expansion from the principal of the Bristol Middle
     School and the principal of the New Hampton and Danbury schools. 
     The record also contains letters in support of the petition from
     the Newfound Area School District Superintendent and the Director
     of Recreation of the Bristol Community Center.  In the course of
     questioning, the Petitioners agreed that the major reason they
     seek EAS expansion is to insure that all students can call within
     the SAU 4 school district at local rates.  They indicated that a
     customer can, without incurring toll charges, reach medical
     facilities, a pharmacy, a bank, a central business area, and an
     internet provider.
               Based upon the testimony at our hearing on October 9,
     1998, we find that a poll of citizens is unwarranted because no
     community of interest has been demonstrated between the
     petitioning exchanges and the towns of Danbury and Rumney.  The
     effect of our decision is somewhat ameliorated by our
     satisfaction that the two-way home and contiguous EAS expansion
     is moving forward as quickly as allowed by the constraints of
     technology and that the Petitioners' current EAS will expand to
     meet their concerns in the majority of the requested area.
               Based upon the foregoing, it is hereby 
               ORDERED, that the petition to expand EAS for the
     Meredith and Ashland exchanges is DENIED.
               By order of the Public Utilities Commission of New
     Hampshire this fourteenth day of December, 1998.
           Douglas L. Patch       Susan S. Geiger     Nancy Brockway
               Chairman           Commissioner          Commissioner
     Attested by:
     Thomas B. Getz
     Executive Director and Secretary