DE 98-211
         Sprint Communications Company LP/Bell Atlantic
         Order Nisi Approving Interconnection Agreement
                    O R D E R   N O.  23,182
                         March 30, 1999
       On December 4, 1998 Sprint Communications Company LP
     (Sprint), filed a petition requesting that the New Hampshire
     Public Utilities Commission (Commission) enforce section 252(i)
     of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (Tact).  Specifically,
     Sprint sought to execute an interconnection agreement with New
     England Telephone and Telegraph Company (Bell Atlantic) under the
     same terms and conditions as those provided to Freedom Ring
     Communications LLC d/b/a BayRing Communications (Freedom Ring),
     and approved by Order No. 22,475 on January 13, 1997.
       The Commission determined that efforts by Bell Atlantic
     to modify an approved interconnection agreement (Freedom Ring
     Agreement) constituted negotiation of a new agreement.  The
     Commission found that refusal by Bell Atlantic to allow Sprint to
     adopt the Freedom Ring Agreement in its entirety is a violation
     of section 252(i) of the TAct in this case.  The FCC has decided
     that the right to adopt an interconnection agreement should be
     limited to a reasonable period of time to allow for changes that
     occur over time such as prices and network configuration choices.
     The reasonable time issue will be addressed in a future
     Commission Docket and could change the allowable time for
     adoption of a previously approved agreement in the future.
       Nisi Order No. 23,111 was issued on January 25, 1999
     directing Bell Atlantic to provide Sprint a signed adoption of
     the Freedom Ring Agreement without modification, within seven
     days of the March 1, 1999 effective date of the order.  On March
     22, 1999, Sprint filed with the Commission a negotiated
     Interconnection Agreement (Agreement) with Bell Atlantic which
     the parties had signed on March 8, 1999.  The Agreement was filed
     for approval pursuant to section 252(e) of the Telecommunications
     Act of 1996 (Tact).  The agreement filed adopts the terms and
     conditions of the interconnection agreement between Bell Atlantic
     and Freedom Ring which was approved by the Commission as
     previously referenced.  
       This Agreement provides, inter alia, for
     transmission/routing of exchange service traffic and exchange
     access traffic, transmission/termination of other types of
     traffic and joint network configuration.  It further provides for
     unbundled access, resale, collocation, number portability,
     dialing parity, access to rights of way, access to data bases,
     and directory assistance service.  The parties will exchange
     technical and traffic information which will be kept proprietary;
     each party will maintain facilities within its own network and
     will not interfere with the other party's systems.
       This Agreement is a comprehensive set of terms and
     conditions that will facilitate the entry of Sprint as a
     competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) in New Hampshire.  The
     parties agree to jointly engineer, plan and operate a diverse
     transmission system with which they will interconnect their
     respective networks.  The Agreement specifies the designation of
     interconnection points, provides for a joint grooming plan, and
     provides for the physical interface of facilities. 
        The interoffice facilities are priced on an unbundled
     basis to allow for use with other unbundled network elements,
     thus creating numerous facilities-based and/or resale options to
     Sprint in the provisioning of exchange and exchange access
     services.  The Agreement also includes detailed unbundling of
     local outside plant and central office facilities that would
     allow Sprint to provide digital and other high-tech services with
     minimal future negotiating or "grooming" of the Agreement. 
     Prices in this filing are virtually the same as those in
     previously approved non-cellular interconnection agreements for
     the services/elements that are common.  Staff points out that the
     TAct does not require that a telecommunications company sell each
     service/element for the same price or terms to each requesting
     party.  A CLEC can request, as demonstrated in this filing, the
     entire agreement of another CLEC pursuant to section 252(i) of
     the TAct.  
        A Statement of Generally Available Terms (SGAT) was
     filed by Bell Atlantic on July 11, 1997 and took effect October
     20, 1997 per order 22,692 (August 25, 1997) subject to continued
     review pursuant to section 252(f)(4) of the TAct.  This allows
     Sprint and other competitors to purchase services or unbundled
     elements that may not be covered by their interconnection
       The Staff has recommended approval of the Agreement
     between Sprint and Bell Atlantic based on a review of the
     petition, the Agreement and verbal clarification provided by Bell
       We have reviewed the filing and find it meets the
     standards of section 252(e)(2)(A) of the TAct for approval of a
     negotiated Agreement.  The Agreement does not appear to be
     discriminatory to any carrier not a party to the negotiations and
     is consistent with the public interest, convenience, and
     necessity.  We will approve it on a nisi basis in order to
     provide any interested party an opportunity to submit comments or
     request a hearing pursuant to RSA 374:26.
       We note that as new competitors enter the market,
     greater pressure is put on the 603 area code, so long as today's
     antiquated number assignment process remains in effect. 
     Accordingly, we would urge Sprint to request and use numbers
     responsibly and conservatively, and to join in exploring
     alternative mechanisms to use existing numbers as efficiently as
     possible and thereby avert the need for a new area code.
       Based upon the foregoing, it is hereby
       ORDERED NISI, that the Interconnection Agreement
     negotiated between Sprint and Bell Atlantic is approved; and it
       FURTHER ORDERED, that Sprint will notify the Commission
     within ten days of making their first facility-based commercial
     call in any exchange that has not already been opened to a
     "fresh-look opportunity" as ordered in Docket DE 96-420.  The
     recommended method of notifying the Commission is to provide a
     copy of the "Confirmation of Code Activation Form" which is used
     to notify the North American Numbering Code Administrator.
       FURTHER ORDERED, that the Petitioner shall cause a copy
     of this Order Nisi to be published once in a statewide newspaper
     of general circulation, such publication to be no later than
     April 6, 1999 and to be documented by affidavit filed with this
     office on or before April 13, 1999; and it is
       FURTHER ORDERED, that all persons interested in
     responding to this petition be notified that they may submit
     their comments or file a written request for a hearing on this
     matter before the Commission no later than April 16, 1999; and it
       FURTHER ORDERED, that this Order Nisi shall be
     effective April 29, 1999, unless the Commission provides
     otherwise in a supplemental order issued prior to the effective
       By order of the Public Utilities Commission of New
     Hampshire this thirtieth day of March, 1999.
           Douglas L. Patch       Susan S. Geiger     Nancy Brockway
               Chairman           Commissioner          Commissioner
     Attested by:
     Thomas B. Getz
     Executive Director and Secretary