ALBANY - Phone customers are benefiting from unprecedented competition, investment and service quality under market-based policies of the New York Public Service Commission. However, anti-competitive factions are working behind the scenes to thwart the progress that consumers enjoy.
Today, Verizon officials and telecommunications industry experts urged the state to continue this progress. Participating in a dial-in news conference were:
Maura Breen, Verizon senior vice president and general manager for New York; Michael Balhoff, managing partner at Balhoff & Rowe, LLC; Mitchell Moss, Henry Hart Rice professor of urban policy and planning at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University; and Robert Puckett, president of the New York State Telecommunications Association.
"The world of phone service has changed dramatically in the last few years," said Breen. "There is more competition than ever today, with New Yorkers communicating over the Internet, over the airwaves and over their cable TV networks. This intense competition has brought consumers more choice, better prices and better service."
However, Breen warned that there are forces at work to drag New York back into the 1900s.
"Some are campaigning to force the state Public Service Commission back to the monopoly regulation days of the 1900s," she said. "This misguided approach harkens back to the days when the consumer had few, if any, choices for service, and prices were set by the government."
The anti-competition forces have played on the fears of New Yorkers, with predictions of dramatic price increases, poorer service and job losses. But their proposals threaten the very price competition, improved service, technology deployment and job stability that have come with a market-based approach to communications services.
As competition has flourished in the New York market, consumers are shopping around and often pay one low price for all their local, regional and long-distance calls. Scores of companies are battling to provide consumers an array of features and technologies. High-speed Internet service has proliferated, in many cases packaged with TV programming and wireless communications.
"Competition is also driving service quality," Breen said. "Since the state oversight plan that included heavy-handed penalties expired last year, Verizon's service quality results are actually better than they were during the entire period the penalty plan was in effect."
Breen noted that in the five major areas monitored by the PSC, service has improved since the regulatory change in February 2005.
The New York PSC continues to closely monitor Verizon service performance. However, competition and market forces now influence service quality more than government oversight.
In response to intense competition, Verizon has invested approximately $3.5 billion in its New York infrastructure in the last three years to update and deploy new technology, build greater value for our customers, create new jobs, and provide new economic development tools statewide.
"Every day more and more New Yorkers are realizing the value and new service choices resulting from this investment," Breen said. "These are new opportunities created by the state's pro-competition market."
Forcing Verizon and other telecommunications companies to go back to the regulatory regimes of the last century would have a chilling effect on this new investment and, in fact, would undermine the ability of these companies to meet the basic objective of providing safe and reliable service to customers anywhere in New York.
"These misguided proposals threaten the progress New Yorkers have witnessed in recent years" Breen said. "It would cast a pall over the future of telecommunications in this state, if they are allowed to prevail."
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), a Dow 30 company, is a leader in delivering broadband and other communication innovations to wireline and wireless customers. Verizon operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving 51.3 million customers nationwide; one of the most expansive wholly-owned global IP networks; and one of the nation's premier wireline networks, serving home, business and wholesale customers. Based in New York, Verizon has a diverse workforce of approximately 250,000 and generates annual consolidated operating revenues of approximately $90 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.