D.C. Agencies and Verizon Urge Low-Income District Residents to Sign Up for Reduced-Rate Phone Services

Low-income District residents may be eligible for discounted phone service through federal and state Lifeline and Link-Up programs. 

During National Lifeline Awareness Week, Sept. 12-18, staff from the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia, Office of the People's Counsel for the District of Columbia and Verizon will help ensure that eligible low-income families and individuals are aware of the discounted Lifeline and Link-Up phone programs and encourage enrollment.  Awareness efforts will continue throughout the year.   

"A local telephone connection gives vulnerable citizens the means to stay in contact with vital emergency services and community resources," said Betty Ann Kane, chairman of the D.C. PSC, the District's utility regulatory agency.  "The commission doesn't want people to miss the opportunity to sign up for Lifeline and Link-Up services, especially in these tough economic times.  We hope people will take advantage of the opportunity to learn more and sign up."

Under Verizon Washington, D.C.'s Lifeline program, known as Economy II, qualified District residents who meet income eligibility guidelines could pay as little as $3 a month for unlimited local calling.  Income-qualified seniors 65 years or older could pay as little as $1 a month for unlimited local calling.  In both cases, applicable taxes and surcharges apply. 

Link-Up is for District residents who are eligible for social service assistance.  The program lowers the cost that eligible consumers pay for setting up new phone service at their home, including cell phone service.  The federal program pays a maximum of $30 toward the initial installation fee for landline phone service in the District of Columbia.  New customers who move to a new address may qualify for this reduction in service connection charges.

D.C. People's Counsel Sandra Mattavous-Frye, the advocate for District ratepayers, said: "Raising awareness of Lifeline and Link-Up is essential to ensuring that limited-income consumers get access to necessary telephone service.  These programs provide significant assistance to eligible customers in setting up and paying for telephone service, and help them to stay connected."

William R. Roberts, Verizon's president in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia, said: "At Verizon, we believe no one should be without telephone service simply because they can't afford it.  We know how critical communications are, and we work hard every day to enhance and maintain our network - making it one that customers can count on when they need it most."  

District residents who have been certified by the District Department of the Environment's Energy Office to receive social service assistance can apply for Lifeline and Link-Up phone services.  To contact the DDOE regarding income eligibility certification and to sign up for Verizon's Lifeline discount phone plans, call 311.  Video Relay Service users should call 202-727-1000.

For more information about the Lifeline program in the District of Columbia, visit www.lifelinesupport.org and click on "D.C." 

District residents also can stop by Joint Utility Discount Day at the Washington Convention Center, Hall A, on Sept. 27, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., to apply for Verizon's discounted phone plans.

About the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia
The Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia is an independent District government agency that Congress established in 1913 to regulate the electric, natural gas and telephone companies serving the District by functioning as a quasi-judicial agency.  The Commission staff is made up of 73 persons, which includes three commissioners, one of whom is designated as the chairman.  To learn more, visit www.dcpsc.org.

About the Office of the People's Counsel for the District of Columbia
The Office of the People's Counsel is an independent agency of the District of Columbia government.  By law, it is the advocate for consumers of natural gas, electric and telephone services in the District.  District of Columbia law designates the office as a party to all utility-related proceedings before the Public Service Commission.  The office also represents the interests of District ratepayers before federal regulatory agencies.  The office is authorized to investigate the operation and valuation of utility companies independently of any pending proceeding.  To learn more, visit www.opc-dc.gov.

About Verizon
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, NASDAQ:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, with more than 106 million total connections nationwide.  Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all of the Fortune 500.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of nearly 196,000 and last year generated consolidated revenues of $106.6 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.