Verizon Asks PSC To Support Company's Request To Offer Long Distance in Maryland

BALTIMORE - Maryland consumers are a major step closer to enjoying full telecommunications competition.

Verizon today notified the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) that the company plans to file an application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to offer long-distance service in the state later this year.

Saying that the local phone market is obviously and irreversibly open to competition, Verizon is taking the next step in its bid to offer long-distance service to consumers and businesses in Maryland.

Verizon is seeking the PSC's support of its upcoming long-distance application with the FCC, which ultimately has the authority to allow Verizon to offer long-distance in Maryland.

The FCC has 90 days to review Verizon's long-distance bid once the company files its application with the federal agency. The PSC and the U.S. Department of Justice will provide their consultations to the FCC before it makes a decision.

"It's time for Marylanders to reap the benefits of full telecommunications competition that consumers elsewhere are enjoying today," said William R. Roberts, president of Verizon Maryland. "Maryland consumers should be able to realize savings similar to those occurring today in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

"We've worked very hard over the past few years to reach this point, and we look forward to proving our readiness to the commission," he said.

Consumers are saving $1.8 billion annually from local and long-distance competition associated with Verizon's entry into long-distance markets, according to studies analyzed by Verizon.

The projected savings are based on projections from a variety of sources, including the Telecommunications Research Action Center, Dr. Jerry Hausman, Consumer Federation of America, TeleNomic Research and BBK Anderson Economic Group.

The research shows that after Verizon's entry into long distance, both local and long-distance competitors work harder to gain and keep customers. "This always works to customers' advantage," said Roberts. "As Verizon is permitted to enter more long-distance markets, that will bring the benefits of long-distance competition to more consumers, and the roughly $1.8 billion in savings for consumers can be expected to grow substantially."

Today's filing with the PSC provides extensive detail showing that Verizon Maryland has met a 14-point competitive checklist specified in the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996. This checklist stipulates the criteria regional Bell companies must satisfy to demonstrate they have opened their local networks to competitors. Meeting this checklist is a prerequisite for Verizon to receive federal permission to offer long-distance service in Maryland.

    The filing provides ample evidence that local telecommunications competition is present and growing in Maryland:

  • Competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) are providing more than 466,000 local phone lines to businesses and consumers throughout Maryland. Competitors are providing local service over their own facilities and over facilities leased from Verizon.

  • CLECs serve approximately 11 percent of the total market in Verizon's Maryland service territory.

  • More than 200 CLECs are certified to provide local phone service in Maryland. More than 60 of these companies currently are actively competing in the state.

  • Verizon has approximately 580 existing collocation arrangements to serve competitors throughout the state. CLECs have access to nearly 84 percent of Verizon's lines through these arrangements.

  • Verizon and CLECs exchanged more than 17. 5 billion minutes of local calls over their networks in 2001, an average of 1.5 billion minutes per month. That represents a 220 percent increase in the average monthly minutes per month since 1999.

During the coming months, the PSC will review the entire body of evidence from Verizon, its competitors and other parties. "When the PSC completes its exhaustive examination of the record, we're confident it will support our long-distance application to the FCC," Roberts said.

Verizon has moved aggressively to bring full telecom competition to its entire service area. On March 15, the company asked the Virginia State Corporation Commission to support its long-distance filing there. Verizon also will seek support for upcoming long-distance filings from public service commissions in West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Since December 1999, Verizon has received FCC approval to offer long-distance service in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. The company currently has long-distance applications for Vermont, New Jersey and Maine pending at the FCC, and rulings are expected by the end of June.

Verizon, the country's fourth-largest long-distance company, currently offers long-distance service in 41 states and recently announced that it had eight million long-distance customers.

Verizon Communications

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 132.1 million access line equivalents and 29.4 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. With more than $67 billion in annual revenues and approximately 247,000 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.