Verizon Lowers Rates for Customers in Southwest Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. - Starting this Saturday, some 55,000 Verizon customers in 13 southwest Virginia exchanges will enjoy lower local phone rates.

The move makes good on a commitment last year by Bell Atlantic and GTE to lower rates for GTE customers in that part of the state, bringing them in line with GTE rates charged in other parts of Virginia. The promise was contingent on the two companies completing their merger. That merger closed June 30, forming Verizon Communications.

"There was never any doubt that this merger of two great companies would bring tangible benefits to Virginians," said Robert Woltz, president of Verizon Virginia. "This is only the first of many such benefits that customers will see."

The former GTE exchanges affected are: Big Prater, Big Rock, Bluefield (Va.), Dwight, Grundy, Hurley, Jewell Ridge, Maxie, Oakwood, Pocohantas, Richlands, Rocky Gap and Tazewell.

Residential customers in those exchanges will see a monthly reduction in the price of flat rate service (unlimited local calling) of $2.29 to $4.96, depending on the number of customers in the exchange. The reduction for business customers with the same service will range from $6.57 to $11.68 a month.

Verizon also is reducing rates in those exchanges for other local services, including optional local calling plans.

In addition to the rate reduction, Bell Atlantic and GTE agreed to expand local calling in many areas throughout Virginia. That will begin next year and will affect over a million Virginia customers who place calls over 367 routes in the state.

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.