Verizon Invests $241 Million To Better Serve Customers in Florida

TAMPA, Fla. - Verizon invested more than $241 million in 2002 to modernize its telecommunications in Florida, improve customer service and further expand its high-speed Internet service offerings. Since 1996, the company has pumped more than $2 billion into its telecommunications network in Florida.

The continued investment in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, Polk and Pasco counties contributes significantly to Verizon's ability to provide outstanding service to its Florida customers over the past three years, based on measurements established by the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC). Verizon's results in 2002 exceeded the commission's standards for service in the following key areas:

  • New service orders installed in three days - 95.3 percent, compared with the commission's standard of 90 percent

  • Lines out of service repaired in 24 hours -- 95.6 percent, compared with the standard of 95 percent

"Our employees' focus on providing excellent customer service, matched with Verizon's huge investment in the most sophisticated technology available, produced excellent service for Verizon's 2 million customers in west central Florida," said John Ferrell, president-southeast region, operations.

Verizon's average service measurements score in 2002 also led or shared the lead with BellSouth and Sprint, Florida's other major providers of local telecommunications service.

For example, Verizon's 95.3 percent score for installation of new service orders led Sprint (93.7 percent) and BellSouth (92.5 percent). For lines out of service repaired in 24 hours, Verizon's 95.6 percent score was only slightly lower than Sprint's (97.1 percent) and above BellSouth's (88.5 percent).

The commission also tracked the number of logged complaints reported for service and billing. Verizon had the fewest complaints, 293, followed by Sprint with 699 and BellSouth with 1,791 .

"These results confirm what we have long believed -- that Verizon provides the best telecommunications service in Florida and that the quality of our network is second to none," said Ferrell.

With its $241 million investment in Florida, Verizon provided advanced technology, accommodated growth, and improved service reliability by replacing and upgrading telecommunications facilities serving residential and business customers. The company also added network technology to enable more customers to obtain Verizon's high-speed DSL service. The expansion includes making DSL more available in areas where Verizon currently provides the service, plus launching it in other Florida cities.

Another key area of concentration involved improving internal management capabilities. The addition of tools like global positioning devices in service trucks is expected to reduce the number of missed appointments with customers, while software additions to technicians' lap-top computers will aid in both locating customers and reporting on service calls, and provide the ability to use the Internet and e-mail remotely.

Verizon, the nation's biggest purchaser of communications equipment, plans to spend about $7.5 billion on capital projects in its nationwide wireline business this year, including continued Florida investment. The projects include adding more than 10 million new telephone lines to Verizon's 36 million lines nationwide that are now equipped with DSL. This will increase to 80 percent the number of lines that will be able to carry the service by year's end.

"While reflecting the realities of the telecom market today, our capital commitment to the region this year will be strong, and our investment will help us continue to improve customer service while supporting economic development in the Tampa Bay region," said Ferrell.

Verizon's Florida network serves more than 2.3 million customer lines in a six-county, 5,879-square-mile area. The network, which features digital switching technology and 185,704 miles of fiber-optic cable, handles more than 73 million calls on a normal business day. Verizon averages nearly 1 million customer contacts per month, including orders for new service, repair requests and billing inquiries.

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 135.8 million access line equivalents and 32.5 million Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. With more than $67 billion in annual revenues and 229,500 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 30 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.