SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. - Vermont consumers are a major step closer to enjoying full telecommunications competition.
Verizon today formally notified the Vermont Public Service Board that the company plans to file an application in November 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 Vermont.
In the filing, the company is seeking the board's support of that long-distance application. Only the FCC can grant final permission for long-distance entry by Verizon on a state-by-state basis.
''It's time for Vermonters to realize the same savings that New Yorkers and Bay Staters now enjoy,'' said Louise McCarren, president of Verizon Vermont.
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.
Some 253,000 Massachusetts's residents have signed up for Verizon's gimmick-free, long-distance plans since the company received FCC approval in April to offer long-distance service in the Bay State. On July 20, the FCC approved Verizon's application to offer long-distance service in Connecticut. The agency is currently reviewing the company's application for Pennsylvania.
Last week, Verizon notified New Hampshire regulators that it expects to file by year's end with the FCC for approval in the Granite State. The company also plans to seek FCC approval this year in Rhode Island and New Jersey.
Verizon's filing today with the board 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 Vermont.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers, a widely known, independent auditing firm, recently issued a report verifying that Verizon's operations support systems for Vermont 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 Vermont.
Today's board filing provides ample evidence that local telecommunications competition is thriving in Vermont:
- Almost 19,000 Vermont telephone customers are served by competitors (16,000 via competitors' leasing of Verizon's lines on a wholesale basis, and 3,000 via competitors' own lines and networks).
- Some 2.3 million telephone numbers have been assigned to competitors.
- Verizon has 34 approved agreements with competitors to link its network with theirs, enabling the competitors to provide local service. More than 35 companies currently use Verizon's computer systems to serve their Vermont customers.
- In Vermont, Verizon has more than 12,000 trunk lines linking its network with those of competitors, and Verizon has 59 arrangements in which competitors' communications equipment is collocated in Verizon's switching offices.
- Competitors have access to nearly 60 percent of Verizon's residential lines and more than 80 percent of Verizon's business lines in Vermont through these collocation arrangements.
- In the first five months of 2001, voice and data calls originating on Verizon's network and terminating on competitors' networks totaled more than one-half billion minutes -- a 13 percent increase over the volume for all of 2000.
Before Verizon files with the FCC, the board will review all the evidence provided by the company, its competitors and other parties to verify that the local market is irreversibly open to competition.
The FCC has 90 days to review Verizon's long-distance bid once the company completes the board's review process and files its application with the FCC. The Vermont board and the U.S. Department of Justice will provide their consultations to the FCC before it makes a decision.
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 approximately $65 billion in annual revenues and about 260,000 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