DE 98-085
                         BELL ATLANTIC
        Order Establishing Customer Polling Schedule to
   Consider the Addition of White River & Hartland, Vermont 
                    O R D E R   N O.  23,169
                         March 22, 1999
       On October 7, 1998, the New Hampshire Public Utilities
     Commission (Commission) issued Order No. 23,037, after holding a
     public hearing on August 6, 1998 at the Plainfield Town Hall in
     response to a petition from customers requesting expansion of the
     Plainfield Extended Area Service (EAS), also known as the local
     calling area, to include Hanover, Lebanon and White River
     Junction, Vermont.  In its decision, the Commission ordered that
     customers in the Plainfield exchange be polled to determine
     whether the Hanover and Lebanon exchanges should be included in
     the Plainfield local calling area.  Based on the written and oral
     comments provided during and after the public hearing, the
     Commission found that no community of interest was established
     between White River Junction and Plainfield and declined to poll
     customers on expansion of the local calling area to White River
       By letter dated November 2, 1998, the Petitioners,
     Laura Wilder and Margaret Drye, requested reconsideration of the
     finding regarding White River Junction and requested, for the
     first time, inclusion of the Hartland, Vermont exchange in the
     Plainfield local calling area.  The letter presented information
     not raised at the public hearing, providing support for the
     assertion that a community of interest does exist between
     Plainfield customers and the White River Junction and Hartland,
     Vermont exchanges.  
       To prevent delaying the poll for proposed New Hampshire
     EAS exchanges (Hanover and Lebanon), and give further
     consideration to Vermont exchanges (White River Junction and
     Hartland) the Commission issued Order No. 23,084 on December 14,
     1998.  This order segregated the New Hampshire and Vermont issues
     and ordered Staff to research and report the requirements for
     appropriate consideration of interstate EAS.
       The Commission Staff has investigated, to the extent
     possible, the average toll calling from Plainfield to White River
     Junction and Hartland, Vermont, provided by the various toll
     carriers.  Based on available information, Staff estimates the
     average number of calls per customer per month from Plainfield to
     White River Junction is 5.9 and from Plainfield to Hartland is
     1.4.  In quantifying a community of interest, N.H. Admin. Rule
     Puc 410.04(a) states: 
         A traffic study shall demonstrate a community of
       interest sufficient to require a hearing as described
       in Puc 410.05 if calling from the petitioning exchange
       to the requested exchange shows:
         1)  An average of 5 or more calls per month per access
       line; and
         2)  That 40% of access lines make 3 or more calls per
     Data was not available on the percent of access lines that make 3
     or more calls per month.  However, based on the petition and the
     available traffic information, we believe a community of interest
     exists from Plainfield to White River Junction.     
       Customers in Hartland, Vermont currently enjoy local
     calling to Plainfield, New Hampshire.  However, Plainfield
     customers incur toll charges to call customers in Hartland. 
     Therefore, despite the fact that N.H. Admin Rules Puc 410 require
     two-way EAS, this one-way EAS route exists.  We were not aware
     this one-way EAS route existed until the petition for
     reconsideration was filed on November 2, 1998.  Although the
     average number of calls per customer per month does not seem to
     support a community of interest from Plainfield to Hartland,
     one-way local calling from Hartland would logically reduce toll
     calls originating from Plainfield and a community of interest may
     actually exist.  In order to eliminate the only known one-way EAS
     in Vermont and New Hampshire, we will include Hartland with our
     consideration of White River Junction in the local calling area
     of the Plainfield exchange.   
       Consistent with prior orders regarding expanded local
     calling areas, we believe Bell Atlantic customers in Plainfield 
     should pay any basic service rate group change that would result
     from the addition of White River Junction and Hartland to the
     local calling area.  With the addition of the contiguous
     exchanges of West Lebanon and Meriden, and with Lebanon and
     Hanover added by this docket on May 31, 1999, the local calling
     area for Plainfield will include access to approximately 30,000
     customers.  This will place it at the upper limit of Rate Group
     C.  The addition of either of the proposed Vermont exchanges will
     move Plainfield to Rate Group D (31,000-75,000) which would
     result in an approximate $1.16 monthly increase for one party
     residence customers.  Through normal growth of customers in all
     of the local calling area without White River Junction or
     Hartland, the aforestated rate group increase was expected to
     occur some time in the year 2000.  
       Based on the above information, we find that a
     community of interest exists between Plainfield and White River
     Junction that was not demonstrated at the hearing on August 6,
     1998.  We further believe the benefits of maintaining consistent
     two-way EAS require an opportunity to consider adding Hartland to
     Plainfield's local calling area.  Therefore, we direct that the
     balloting of customers in the Plainfield exchange  determine if
     customers are willing to pay rates associated with Rate Group D
     to add White River Junction and Hartland, Vermont to the local
     calling area according to the following schedule:
        Ballot sent by Commission.... April 19, 1999
        Ballots returned by...........May 10, 1999       
        Ballots tabulated by..........May 17, 1999
       The poll shall be considered conclusive if ballots are
     returned by 25% or more of the customer base.  The outcome of a
     conclusive vote will be determined by a simple majority of the
     returned ballots.  
       Should Plainfield customers vote in the affirmative for
     the addition of White River Junction and Hartland it will be
     necessary to obtain Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and
     Vermont Board of Public Service approval.
       Based upon the foregoing, it is hereby
       ORDERED, that a vote on Plainfield's EAS expansion to
     include the White River Junction and Hartland, Vermont exchanges
     shall be conducted based on the local rate increase listed on the
     ballot; and it is
       FURTHER ORDERED, that if Plainfield customers vote in
     the affirmative that Bell Atlantic-New Hampshire shall file for
     approval of the EAS expansion with the FCC and coordinate with
     Bell Atlantic-Vermont for approval by the Vermont Department of
     Public Service; and it is 
       FURTHER ORDERED, that Bell Atlantic provide mailing
     labels for Plainfield Exchange customers by April 12, 1999.
       By order of the Public Utilities Commission of New
     Hampshire this twenty-second day of March, 1999.
           Douglas L. Patch       Susan S. Geiger     Nancy Brockway
               Chairman           Commissioner          Commissioner
     Attested by:
     Thomas B. Getz
     Executive Director and Secretary