Verizon Earns FCC Approval To Offer Long-Distance Service to Rhode Islanders

WASHINGTON -- Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) today received approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to offer long-distance service in Rhode Island. The company said it would launch its simple, easy-to-use calling plans in Rhode Island beginning March 7.

"This clears the way for consumers and businesses in Rhode Island to be able to get a full palette of telecommunications services from Verizon, a company they know and trust," said Tom Tauke, Verizon senior vice president of public policy and external affairs.

Rhode Island is the fifth state in which Verizon has received the approval required by the 1996 Telecommunications Act to offer long-distance service. In January 2000, Verizon (then Bell Atlantic) was the first regional Bell company allowed to offer long-distance service in its local service area when it won approval to sell such services in New York.

"Today's FCC action takes Rhode Island to a new level of telecom competition," said Donna Cupelo, region president of Verizon for Massachusetts and Rhode Island. "The state's already-robust telecommunications competitive marketplace will heat up as competitors attack the local market with renewed vigor, while Verizon competes for long-distance customers. And consumers will be the big winners."

Studies by the Telecommunications Research and Action Center confirm that consumers are saving millions in those states where Verizon is allowed to enter the long-distance business. One study found that New Yorkers are saving in excess of $700 million a year on their long-distance and local service bills since Verizon entered the long-distance market in the state.

Verizon plans to launch its long-distance calling plans in Rhode Island as early as next month (For more information on Verizon's long-distance offerings, visit the company's Web site at www.verizonld.com.)

"Verizon will offer a surprise-free menu of long-distance services that provide great value," said Jill Wagner, vice president of consumer marketing for Verizon's long-distance operation. "We plan to help our customers harness the power of telecommunications with one supplier, one bill and easy-to-understand service packages that meet their unique requirements."

"Today's decision helps level the competitive playing field," said Tauke. "Until today, our Rhode Island customers could buy all their telecommunications services only from our competitors -- from local to regional calling, long-distance and data services. Verizon now can enter the competitive market in the state, and we're looking forward to it."

"We hope that we are able in the near future to file long-distance applications with the FCC for Maine and New Hampshire. Our customers in all of the New England states have had to wait too long to take advantage of the benefits that occur when Verizon is allowed to compete fully in the telecommunications marketplace, " Tauke said.

Verizon currently has two other long-distance applications pending at the FCC. On Dec. 20, the company filed an application for New Jersey and the commission is expected to rule on it by March 20. On Jan. 17, Verizon filed for Vermont and a ruling is expected by April 17. The Department of Justice has recommended that the FCC approve the two applications.

Verizon offers long-distance service in 40 other states and recently announced that it had 7.6 million long-distance customers. Verizon is the country's fourth largest long-distance company.

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. A Fortune 10 company 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.