Verizon Asks PUC To Declare All Telecom Services For Pennsylvania Businesses Competitive

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Responding to the burgeoning growth of competition in business telecom services in Pennsylvania, Verizon Pennsylvania has asked the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to reclassify all retail services the company provides to businesses as "competitive."

The change would enable Verizon to provide competitive pricing and creative service offerings to all businesses in Verizon Pennsylvania's service area.

Today, if Verizon wants to change prices or package offerings for business customers that spend less than $10,000 a year on telecom services, the company must file a tariff seeking the commission's approval. The filing then is subject to a process that can take up to 60 days and be contested by competitors that are not constrained by any similar requirement.

Only when a customer is a relatively large business that spends more than $10,000 annually on telecommunications services is Verizon now allowed full pricing flexibility. Reclassifying all business services as competitive would allow Verizon the same flexibility as its competitors to offer businesses spending less than that amount innovative pricing and bundles of telecom services.

"Competing companies serve business customers of every size in every one of Verizon Pennsylvania's telephone exchanges," said Daniel J. Whelan, president and CEO of Verizon Pennsylvania. "In this robust competitive environment, all businesses -- small, medium and large -- need and deserve greater competition for and responsiveness to their customized telecommunications needs."

Verizon Pennsylvania must demonstrate to the state PUC that sufficient competition exists in the market to gain approval for its request. The company late on July 1 filed more than 1,500 pages of testimony and exhibits showing that the business market in its service area is competitive. For example, competitors currently control about one-fourth of the telephone access lines and revenue generated by business customers that spend less than $10,000 a year on telecom services in Verizon Pennsylvania's service area.

In 1999, the PUC determined that Verizon Pennsylvania's services offerings to business customers spending $10,000 or more annually were competitive.

"The time is right for the commission to declare the entire business telecommunications market open to competition and the benefits that brings," said Whelan. "Competitors are active throughout the commonwealth and are serving businesses both large and small. Increasing the competitive options available for businesses will help them succeed and reinforce Pennsylvania's reputation as a pro-competitive state."

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 133.8 million access line equivalents and approximately 29.6 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. With more than $67 billion in annual revenues and nearly 248,000 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.