Verizon Seeks to Offer Vermont Consumers Long-Distance Service

WASHINGTON -- Verizon today filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to offer long-distance service in Vermont, continuing the company's efforts to spread the benefits of all-out competition in the Northeast.

"This application builds on our successful filings for other Northeastern states and advances our ability to offer a complete menu of telecommunications products to our customers on the East Coast," said Tom Tauke, senior vice president of public policy and external affairs for Verizon.

Vermont is the seventh state where Verizon has applied for approval to offer long distance. As a former regional Bell company, Verizon must get FCC approval before it can offer long distance in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states where it provides local phone service. Tauke said that Verizon would file applications for the remaining New England states of New Hampshire and Maine soon.

The FCC has 90 days to review Verizon's long-distance application. The Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) and the U.S. Department of Justice will provide their recommendations to the FCC before it makes a final decision. The Vermont PSB yesterday announced that it supports the Verizon long-distance application.

"Consumers in Vermont deserve the competitive savings their neighbors in Massachusetts and New York enjoy," said Louise McCarren, president of Verizon Vermont. "As in these neighboring states, Verizon's entry into long distance will stimulate real competition, not only in long distance, but also in local service.

"Local competition is already thriving in Vermont," McCarren said. "But in states where Verizon has received long-distance approval from the FCC, our entry has stimulated even greater competition, not only in long-distance offerings, but also in local-service packages. It's time for residents and businesses in Vermont to reap the benefits that only Verizon's entry into long distance will bring."

Consumers in New York are saving up to $700 million annually in local and long-distance charges since Verizon began providing long-distance service there in January 2000, according to an independent study by the Telecommunications Research and Action Center.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), an independent consulting firm verified after an exhaustive review that Verizon's operations support systems in Vermont are the same as those in Massachusetts, where Verizon's application was approved by the FCC last spring. Competitors use Verizon's systems to provide their own service or to switch local customers' service from Verizon.

"There is no question that we've met or exceeded all the federal requirements," said Tauke. "Even though the state is one of the most rural in the country, large and small telecommunications companies are using Verizon systems in commercial volumes to compete in the state."

In December 1999, Verizon (then Bell Atlantic) became the first Bell company to gain FCC approval to offer long distance in its own service area when it won federal approval for New York, enabling the company to provide one-stop shopping for domestic and international telecommunications services to all its customers there. Last year, the company received FCC permission to provide long distance in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

Verizon has applications seeking long-distance approval for Rhode Island and New Jersey pending at the FCC. The commission will rule on the Rhode Island application by Feb. 24 and the New Jersey application by March 20.

Verizon Long Distance is the fourth-largest long-distance service provider in the country, serving some 7 million customers in 40 states.

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 128.5 million access line equivalents and 28.7 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with 256,000 employees and approximately $65 billion in annual revenues, 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.