Verizon Ready to Jump into Massachusetts Long-Distance Market with Simple, Innovative Plans

BOSTON -- Verizon Long Distance today announced a dozen innovative, straightforward long-distance calling plans that will bring the true benefits of competition -- choice and value -- to Massachusetts callers.

Yesterday, Verizon received approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to offer long-distance service in Massachusetts. The plans unveiled today will be available April 26 to consumers and businesses across the state -- the date Verizon is allowed to begin offering long distance in the Bay State.

Verizon's long-distance plans have competitive, per-minute rates without pricing gimmicks. Most plans do not have monthly charges or minimums, so customers do not need to "study the fine print" when ordering service or coping with the bills.

"It's long distance made simple from Verizon," said Maura Breen, president, Verizon Long Distance. "We're offering Massachusetts residents and businesses long-distance calling plans that are innovative and easy to understand. We've made it easy -- one provider, one bill and one call for customer service.

"Both residential and business customers told us they want to 'keep it simple' and our plans do that. We offer customized calling plans tailored to fit our customers' lifestyles and calling preferences," she said.

With Verizon's most popular plan, Timelesssm, consumers pay ten cents a minute for all long-distance calls with no monthly plan fees. It's not uncommon for customers of other long-distance companies to pay as much as 25 cents a minute for their calls.

Verizon's plans, available in 37 other states, have proven very popular with consumers and businesses alike. The Telecommunications Research and Action Center, an independent watchdog consumer group, estimates that New Yorkers saved $220 million on telecommunications services last year after Verizon began offering long-distance service there.

Innovative Calling Plans for Consumers and Businesses

Consumers will choose from five domestic plans and one international plan. Business customers will have four domestic options as well as two international plans. In addition, Verizon will have toll-free plans and calling cards for consumers and businesses. The company will offer mid-sized to large businesses customized packages of high-speed data services. Except for the international plans, Verizon's rates will be based on state-to-state, direct-dialed domestic calls.

"We will offer innovative plans that let consumers buy long-distance service in advance or at a low flat rate available only through the Internet. There's a plan here for everyone -- from the highest to lowest volume long-distance callers," Breen said.

Here are the consumer long-distance plans, which will be available in Massachusetts:

The SmartTouchsm Calling Plan is an innovative, pre-paid long-distance plan. Calls are 8 cents a minute all the time for state-to-state calls from home and 9 cents a minute for in-state long-distance calls. Rates are competitive for international calls and vary per country. There are no monthly plan fees or surcharges. Voice prompts tell customers how much money is in their account, how many minutes the call lasted and the remaining balance at the end of every call, or by checking the Web site -- www.mysmarttouch.com. Calls made away from home are 25 cents a minute with no surcharges, even when using a pay phone.

The Timeless Calling Plan offers consumers a straight 10-cents-a-minute calling plan for long-distance calls -- all day, every day. There are no monthly recurring plan charges and no minimum usage requirements.

The e-Valuessm Calling Plan is available only through the Verizon Long Distance Web site, www.verizon-ld.com. E-Value customers pay 5 cents a minute on weekends and 9 cents a minute on weekdays -- with no monthly calling-plan fees or minimum usage requirements.

The TalkTime Calling Plan provides a choice of two pre-paid monthly packages with sliding, per-minute rates. The more time purchased, the lower the per-minute rate. Consumers can buy 300 minutes for $24 a month or 500 minutes for $39 a month. The bulk-rate plans have effective rates as low as 7.8 cents per minute with no hidden fees or surcharges. Verizon also plans to introduce a 60-minute plan for $5 a month.

The Best Timessm Calling Plan is designed for consumers who make more than $35 worth of long-distance calls per month. Consumers pay 5 cents a minute during off-peak calling hours (5 p.m. - 8 a.m. weekdays and weekends) and 7 cents a minute during peak calling hours (8 a.m. - 5 p.m. weekdays). The monthly plan charge is $4.75.

The International Savings Plan is for consumers who regularly make international calls. The plan offers low, flat rates for international long-distance calling. U.S. rates are 9 cents a minute to the United Kingdom and Canada, 12.8 cents a minute to Japan and 25 cents a minute to Portugal. There's a $3 monthly charge.

Verizon Massachusetts customers who subscribe to local packaged plans --SoundDeal®, ValuePack or Local Package -- will be able to add long-distance service at 8 cents a minute from Verizon Long Distance. The plans offer a variety of value-added services, and may include local service, for a flat monthly rate.

Verizon Long Distance will offer a calling card for domestic calls made away from home at 35 cents a minute. Calling card calls that cannot be carried by Verizon Long Distance are carried by USAN at rates that it sets.

The plans available for Massachusetts businesses will include:

The FirmRatesm Calling Plan offers a 9-cents-a-minute rate for calls -- all day. There are no monthly plan fees or minimum charges. Optional term plans reduce the 9-cents-per-minute rate. Toll-free calling can be added at the same rate, with no additional monthly charges or sign-up fees.

The SimpleOptionssm Calling Plan was designed for business customers who regularly spend more than $100 a month on long-distance charges. The plan offers a variety of low, per-minute rates based on volume and term commitments. With the Business Linksm Solutions offer, an additional 5-percent discount is available to customers who also subscribe to Centrex and other local products. Toll-free and international calls apply to minimum spending levels. There are no monthly plan fees.

The FirmRate Plussm Calling Plan has a 7-cents-per-minute rate for long-distance customers who subscribe to certain local services, such as Centrex. There are no monthly plan fees or term plan commitments.

The e-Values for Businesssm Plan is available only on the Web site at www.verizon-bizld.com. It offers a flat rate of 8 cents a minute. There are no monthly plan fees or minimum charges.

Talk to the World is a flat-rate plan that will save money for businesses that make a minimum of three international calls per month from the U.S. There is a $3 monthly service fee and businesses can reach 250 foreign countries and locations. Rates are 8 cents a minute to the United Kingdom and Canada and 15 cents a minute to Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and Hong Kong.

The International Regional Calling Plan works best for businesses that frequently call a single country or region. Customers pay a $3 a monthly fee and pre-select a region to receive the lowest flat rate to the countries they call the most.

Toll-Free Service enables businesses to stay in touch with customers and suppliers by using an "800," "888" or another toll-free number. Toll-free service offers businesses the same per-minute rates as basic dial tone service.

"We look forward to bringing long-distance service, simplicity and savings to additional states this year," Breen said. "It is gratifying to see the ripples of competition unleashed by Verizon's entry into long distance."

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 nearly 109 million access line equivalents and more than 27.5 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with approximately 260,000 employees and more than $63 billion in annual 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