Verizon Asks PUC To Support Company's Request To Offer Long Distance in Maine

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine consumers are a major step closer to enjoying full telecommunications competition, as Verizon today notified the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that it soon plans to file an application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to offer long-distance service in the state.

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 Maine.

Verizon notified the PUC that it plans to file a long-distance application with the FCC by year's end. Verizon is seeking the PUC's support of its long-distance application. Earlier this year, the company filed similar requests with state regulators in New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and New Jersey.

"It's time for Mainers to reap the benefits of full telecommunications competition," said Ed Dinan, president of Verizon Maine. "We have worked long and hard to reach this point, and we look forward to receiving the timely endorsement of the PUC."

The former regional Bell companies must get FCC approval before they can offer long distance in the states where they provide local phone service. Verizon is able to offer long-distance in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania, as well as 36 other states formerly served by GTE Long Distance, which was not a Bell company.

"The momentum is building for Maine to join the states that have embraced full telecom competition," said Dinan. "Maine residents and businesses deserve the increased choices and savings that wide-open competition brings."

Consumers in New York are saving up to $700 million annually in local and long-distance charges since Verizon began providing long-distance service in the Empire State in January 2000, according to an independent study by the Telecommunications Research and Action Center (TRAC). A separate TRAC study found that Pennsylvania consumers could save up to $452 million in the first year after Verizon enters the long-distance business in the state.

"It's a simple formula - competition for local phone service heats up as Verizon obtains long-distance approval," said Dinan. "It happened in New York and Massachusetts, and it will happen here."

Verizon's filing today with the Maine PUC shows in extensive detail that the company 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 Maine.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers, a widely known, independent auditing firm, recently issued a report verifying that Verizon's operations support systems for Maine are the same as those already reviewed by the FCC when it approved Verizon's application in Massachusetts. Competitors use Verizon's systems to support their own sales and service activities within Maine.

    Today's PUC filing provides ample evidence that local telecommunications competition is thriving in Maine:

  • About 47,000 Maine telephone lines are served by competitors (40,500 via competitors' leasing of Verizon's lines on a wholesale basis, and 6,400 via competitors' own lines and networks).

  • More than 715,000 telephone numbers have been assigned to competitors.

  • Verizon has 48 agreements with competitors to link its network with theirs, allowing them to offer local service. More than 35 companies currently use Verizon's computer systems to serve Maine customers.

  • In Maine, Verizon has more than 11,000 trunk lines linking its network with those of competitors, and Verizon has provided 93 arrangements in which competitors' communications equipment is collocated in Verizon's switching offices.

  • Competitors have access to 45 percent of Verizon's residential lines and 70 percent of business lines in Maine through these collocation arrangements.

  • In the first seven months of 2001, voice and data calls originating on Verizon's network and terminating on competitors' networks totaled almost 200 million minutes.

The PUC will review all the evidence from Verizon, its competitors and other parties, which shows that the local market is irreversibly open to competition.

"When the PUC completes its examination of the record, we're confident it will support our long-distance application to the FCC," said Dinan.

The FCC has 90 days to review Verizon's long-distance bid once the company completes the PUC's review process and files its application with the FCC. Before making a decision, the FCC consults with the Maine PUC and the U.S. Department of Justice.

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 125 million access line equivalents and approximately 28 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with about 260,000 employees and more than $65 billion in annual revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.