NORFOLK, Va. - For the first time in 16 years, local phone bills will rise next month for Verizon customers in Norfolk and parts of Virginia Beach, prompted by continued growth in the area.
Basic local service rates for residential customers in the Norfolk/Virginia Beach exchange will rise 74 cents to a total of $14.33 a month. Basic local rates for business customers will increase from $49.33 to $53.18 a month.
"As this area has grown, customers have thousands more people in their local calling area," said Charles Gwaltney, area manager for Verizon Communications. "This increase of customers in their local calling areas puts them in a higher rate group, somewhat like a taxpayer moving to a higher tax bracket."
The rates that Virginians pay for local service are based on the number of telephone subscriber lines in the local calling area. Verizon customers in large local calling areas pay more per month for basic local service than customers in areas with fewer phone lines.
Verizon has eight rate groups, with the largest of the state's local calling areas in the eighth group. The Norfolk/Virginia Beach exchange is moving from Rate Group 7 to Rate Group 8. Many customers in other parts of the Hampton Roads area, including those in Newport News, Hampton, Portsmouth and Suffolk are already to Rate Group 8.
The change does not affect Verizon customers in other parts of Hampton Roads. Nor does it affect Verizon customers in that part of Virginia Beach formerly served by GTE.
Bell Atlantic and GTE merged last summer to form Verizon Communications. However, their local phone company subsidiaries continue to function separately due to different regulatory structures.
Verizon's tariffed rates for basic local service have not increased in Virginia since 1984. A proposal before the State Corporation Commission would ensure that tariffed rates remain capped through 2003, after which any increase would be limited to half the rate of inflation.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with more than 100 million access line equivalents and more than 26 million wireless customers. A Fortune 10 company with more than 260,000 employees and approximately $60 billion in 1999 revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.