Telecommunications Competition Alive and Well in Florida

BACKGROUND -- John Malone, president and CEO, The Eastern Management Group, said last week that Florida ranks

as one of the top five states for telephone competition in local markets, with twice the national average level for

Competitive Local Exchange Company activity. Malone, whose company is a management consulting firm based in Bedminster,

N.J., made the comments at a meeting of the Florida Public Service Commission. CLECs that are building out their own

networks, maintaining strict business discipline and focusing on building local market earnings, as opposed to only

capturing customers, are succeeding without the help of additional regulatory programs or plans, according to Malone.

The following statement should be attributed to John Blanchard, president, Southeast region, Verizon Communications.

"Verizon knows that telecommunications competition is vibrant in Florida. It is evident at 55 of the 85 central

offices in our region, where competitors have located their telephone equipment in each and every one.

"It is also apparent that creating an environment where there is an incentive for new investment is the best way to

encourage competition. The outrageous idea of structural separation -- the call to break-up local phone companies like

Verizon and Bell South into separate wholesale and retail groups -- is nothing more than a self-serving diversionary

tactic dreamed up by AT&T to protect their own markets and delay competition for both local and long distance


"Robust competition that is governed by the market place, as exists in the current wireless telecommunications

sector, is the only way to ensure that both consumers and the industry enjoy the full benefits of the Telecommunications

Act. Anything less will lead to customer confusion, a delay in the expansion and availability of broadband technology

and higher costs for even basic telephone service.

"Embracing the flawed notion of structural separation would lead to dramatically increased prices for Florida

consumers coupled with a profound weakening in the delivery of telephone service."