PUC Support of Verizon Plan to Offer Long Distance Is Right Call for Pennsylvanians

BACKGROUND -- The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today said it will support Verizon's upcoming

application to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to offer long-distance service in Pennsylvania upon Verizon's

acceptance of several PUC conditions. The PUC decision follows an intensive, two-year review of Verizon's compliance

with the requirements of the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996. This review included seven weeks of technical

hearings, voluminous written testimony and full hearings before the five PUC commissioners. The PUC also examined the

results of an 18-month test of the Verizon computer systems used by competitors to switch customers' local service from

Verizon, as well as several months of actual commercial performance using these systems. The FCC must approve Verizon's

application before the company can provide long-distance service in the state. The PUC and the U.S. Department of

Justice will provide their recommendations to the FCC before it makes a final decision. The following should be

attributed to Daniel J. Whelan, president of Verizon Pennsylvania:

"After an exhaustive review of the entire record, the Public Utility Commission rightly determined that Verizon has

met the requirements of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to open our markets to competitors, subject to our acceptance

of several conditions.

"We will accept those conditions.

"The PUC's support means that Pennsylvanians now are closer to reaping the benefits of full competition that their

neighbors in New York enjoy today. New Yorkers are saving up to $700 million annually in local and long-distance

services since Verizon began offering long-distance there last year.

"By any measure, competition in Pennsylvania's local phone market is vibrant, and it's growing rapidly. Competitors

now serve approximately one million phone lines here - more than 14 percent of the phone lines in Verizon Pennsylvania's

service area. And, according to the Federal Communications Commission, the percentage of Pennsylvania phone lines served

by competitors grew 25 percent in the second half of 2000 alone.

"We now will make this strong case to the FCC, and we're confident that, when it examines the record, the FCC will

agree with the PUC that it's time for Verizon long distance in Pennsylvania."