ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- An AT&T-backed bill that would have saddled Maryland consumers with higher phone costs, diminished network
investment and massive confusion failed to advance in the Maryland General Assembly.
Del. Joan F. Stern (D-Montgomery Co.), the sponsor of House Bill 957, withdrew the legislation today prior to a vote by the House of Delegates Environmental
Matters Committee. This legislation would have forced Verizon Maryland to split into two separate companies, dramatically increasing the costs of providing
local phone service in the state.
"Withdrawal of this bill is the right call for Marylanders," said William R. Roberts, Verizon Maryland president. "It's apparent that the concept
of structural separation is a risky, unnecessary experiment being pushed by AT&T that is not in the public interest."
In Pennsylvania, Verizon has estimated that splitting its company operations there would cost more than $1 billion to implement, increase phone rates, threaten
thousands of jobs, diminish network investment and create tremendous customer confusion.
The bill failed to advance out of the committee despite an intense and well-funded lobbying and advertising campaign by AT&T and its allies. AT&T
hopes to gain a business advantage over local companies like Verizon at the expense of consumers. As part of this effort, AT&T has sponsored television
and full-page newspaper ads. AT&T also has mobilized front groups to spread the company's misinformation.
"This failure by AT&T to move its self-serving legislation through the Maryland General Assembly should send a message across the country,"
said Roberts. "The road to full telecommunications competition isn't a U-turn to increased regulation and legislated inefficiency; it goes forward to open
markets where all companies are free to compete by providing all services to all consumers.
"We applaud Del. Stern and her Environmental Matters Committee co-members for taking the right road today in not moving this flawed bill
forward," he said.
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) 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 nearly 109 million access line equivalents and more than 27.5 million wireless customers. Verizon
is also the world's largest provider of print and online directory information. A Fortune 10 company with approximately 260,000 employees and more than $63
billion in annual revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon,