Verizon Recreates Bell's First Long-Distance Call to Watson

BOSTON - "Mr. Watson, come here, I want you."

It all started here...

To celebrate Verizon's ability to offer long-distance service to Massachusetts
customers starting today (April 26), Verizon Massachusetts President Robert
Mudge recreates in Alexander Graham Bell's reconstructed workshop the first
long-distance call made in April 1877 between Boston and New York. Bell
and his assistant Thomas Watson tested the feasibility of long-distance
calling a year after Bell invented the telephone.

(Photo by George Riley)

Most school children learn these were the first words transmitted by telephone in 1876 when Alexander Graham Bell accidentally spilled acid in his Boston workshop and called for his assistant, Thomas Watson, in another room.

But few know that Bell and Watson teamed up one year later in April 1877 to test the first long-distance call between Boston and New York over a borrowed telegraph line.

Today, 124 years after that historic long-distance call, two Verizon executives placed the first ceremonial, long-distance call from Boston to New York since the company received approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to offer long-distance service to Massachusetts customers. The call was made from Verizon's Boston headquarters, which also contains Bell's reconstructed laboratory.

"This is an historic day for customers in the Commonwealth," said Robert Mudge, president of Verizon Massachusetts. "Today, consumers and business customers can get simple, easy-to-understand, long-distance plans from one provider, on one bill with no hidden fees or pricing gimmicks."

Former regional Bell operating companies must demonstrate to regulators, on a state-by-state basis, that they have opened their networks to competitors before they are allowed to offer long-distance service in their own service area. In December 1999, Verizon (then Bell Atlantic) made history when it became the first regional Bell company to win that approval when it was allowed to offer long distance in New York. On April 16, the FCC approved Verizon's long-distance application for Massachusetts, the second such state for the company and the fifth such state for any former Bell company

Mudge called his colleague, Paul Crotty, president of Verizon New York/Connecticut. Some 1.7 million Empire State customers have signed up for a Verizon long-distance plan since January 2000. "Verizon's plans are popular because they are tailored to meet the needs of individual customers. We don't believe one shoe fits all," Crotty said.

Earlier this week, Verizon filed its request with the FCC to offer long-distance service in Connecticut.

Starting today in Massachusetts, Verizon began is offering a dozen innovative, straightforward long-distance calling plans.

Here are the consumer long-distance plans announced last week by Maura Breen, president of Verizon Long Distance:

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.verizonld.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 - can 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 offers 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 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.verizonld.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.


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 112 million access line equivalents and 27 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 $65 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.