PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - More than 708,000 Verizon Communications customers in Pennsylvania will get good news in their telephone bills starting Sept. 23.
Effective that date, Verizon, the national communications company formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, will eliminate the monthly Touch-Tone Calling charge that former GTE customers in Pennsylvania now pay. This charge amounts to $1.50 a month per line for consumers and $2.50 per line for businesses. In addition, the company will eliminate monthly Touch-Tone Calling charges for business trunks and Centrex customers.
Elimination of these charges will save Pennsylvania customers of the former GTE nearly $10 million a year. Customers of the former Bell Atlantic do not pay a separate charge for Touch-Tone service.
"Elimination of the Touch-Tone Calling charge is one of the first tangible benefits Pennsylvanians will experience as a result of the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE," said Daniel J. Whelan, president of Verizon Pennsylvania. "Verizon made a number of significant financial and service commitments to the Commonwealth's consumers and businesses in obtaining merger approval, and we're delivering on those commitments."
Other commitments include:
- Capping rates through 2003. Verizon will cap residential rates for basic local phone service in its Pennsylvania service areas through 2003.
- Cutting rates in parts of rural Pennsylvania. Within two years, Verizon will lower basic service rates in certain rural portions of Pennsylvania formerly served by GTE to the level of the former Bell Atlantic's rates in comparable areas, saving customers approximately $5 million a year.
- Accelerating new service availability. Within 30 months, Verizon will extend the availability of calling services such as Caller ID, Automatic Call Return and Automatic Busy Redial to all Verizon service territories in Pennsylvania.
- Enhancing lifeline phone service. Verizon has introduced new options for limited-income households to obtain local phone service at reduced cost.
- Continuing high levels of network investment. Verizon will continue to enhance its Pennsylvania telecommunications network, with a commitment to invest approximately $2.5 billion from the years 2000 through 2002. This will help expand the availability of the latest technologies and services in rural, suburban and urban areas of the state.
- Reducing access charges, unbundled loop rates. Verizon will substantially decrease the prices long-distance and competing local phone companies pay to complete calls over Verizon's network, as well as the prices companies pay Verizon to lease parts of its network to providing competing local phone service.
"These commitments will result in near-term savings, accelerated rollout of new services for many customers and significant network investment in Pennsylvania's telecommunications infrastructure," said Whelan. "Customers also will gain as Verizon moves forward as a stronger company that will bring a full menu of the very finest telecommunications services to consumers and businesses throughout the Commonwealth."
Verizon Communications serves more than 7.2 million telephone access lines and employs more than 21,000 people in Pennsylvania.
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ), formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, 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 more than 100 million access line equivalents and 25.6 million wireless customers. A Fortune 10 company with more than 260,000 employees and approximately $60 billion in 1999 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.