Verizon Reduces Rates by $5 Million For Former GTE Customers in Pennsylvania

ERIE, Pa. -- The cost of local phone service just went down for more than 500,000 Verizon residential customers in the former GTE service area of Pennsylvania. Customers will see the savings beginning with their Verizon phone bills mailed after July 22.

The decrease ranges from seven cents to $8.57 per month. In addition, some 125,000 customers will see a slight increase in their monthly bill, with half of them seeing an increase of less than 50 cents per month. Customers' rate changes will depend on the type of calling plan they subscribe to and their rate group classification.

The rate cut amounts to a $5 million decrease statewide and fulfills a commitment made in Pennsylvania by GTE and Bell Atlantic when the companies merged two years ago to form Verizon. The company pledged to reduce residential rates in the former GTE service area and to streamline the former GTE rate structure in Pennsylvania to mirror that of Bell Atlantic.

"Our goal was to ensure that all our Pennsylvania residential customers' basic rates matched as closely as possible," said Daniel J. Whelan, president and CEO of Verizon Pennsylvania. "With these changes, all Verizon customers in similarly sized local calling areas throughout the commonwealth are paying similar rates for basic phone service."

To satisfy its merger commitment, Verizon eliminated certain charges and realigned the rate structure and rate group classifications for all former GTE customers. The company consolidated 18 rate groups into three and re-classified the rate groups for its telephone exchanges to reflect the number of phone lines in a particular exchange's local calling area. The changes affected former GTE customers throughout the state, including those in Emmaus, Erie, Franklin, Hershey, Johnstown, Oil City, Somerset and York.

More than 80 percent of residential customers will see a decrease in their monthly basic local rates. More than 60 percent of the decreases will be between $1 and $2 per month. Eighteen percent of residential customers will experience a modest increase based on their new rate group categories. The increase ranges from four cents to $2.44 per month.

"We're making sure that rates reflect the number of telephone lines in customers' local calling areas -- some of which have grown significantly over the years," said Whelan. "With the vast majority of customers seeing a decrease as a result of these changes, customers will benefit from a more accurate reflection of their local calling areas."

Verizon will continue to provide several existing optional local calling plans only to those customers who currently subscribe to a plan and remain at their present location. Those plans include Basic Calling, Community Calling, Community Plus, Premium Calling and Unlimited with Measured.

In addition, Verizon will convert existing two- and four-party customers to individual dial-tone service over the next year in the former GTE service area. The company is eliminating party-line service because of the inability to provide state-of-the-art emergency 911 service and the inability of these customers to obtain modern telecommunications features and services.

This rate reduction and streamlining is the latest in a series of benefits Verizon customers have enjoyed since the merger's completion two years ago. Verizon also has:

  • Extended the availability of several popular calling services to 100 percent of its customers;

  • Introduced two new options for limited-income households;

  • Eliminated the monthly Touch-Calling charge paid by former GTE customers in Pennsylvania, and

  • Capped residential rates for basic local service through 2003.

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 133.8 million access line equivalents and approximately 29.6 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. With more than $67 billion in annual revenues and nearly 248,000 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.