Verizon Seeks Permission to Serve Long Distance Customers in Massachusetts

BOSTON, Sept. 22, 2000 - Telecommunications customers in Massachusetts will soon be able to choose Verizon (NYSE:VZ) for long distance service if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approves an application filed by the company today. Saying that the local phone market is obviously open to competition, Verizon today applied to provide long-distance service to about three million homes and businesses in Massachusetts.

"The record is clear and convincing that Verizon should be permitted to offer long distance service," said Robert Mudge, president of Verizon Massachusetts. "With 700,000 customers served by our competitors, it is plain to see that local phone customers have choices for local telephone service in the Commonwealth. Now they deserve the chance to select the straightforward, low-cost long distance service Verizon offers in other parts of the country."

Massachusetts is the second state where the company has applied to offer long distance inside its own service area. In December 1999 in New York, Verizon, then Bell Atlantic, made history when it became the first regional Bell operating company to receive approval to provide one-stop shopping for domestic and international telecommunications services to all of its customers.

The filing provides extensive detail on the steps Verizon has taken to meet a 14-point competitive checklist specified in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. This checklist contains the criteria regional Bell companies must honor to open their local networks to competitors. Fulfilling this checklist is a prerequisite for a Bell company to receive federal permission to offer long-distance service within its local service area.

"Verizon has invested more than $1 billion to ensure that our network is available and open to our wholesale customers," said Edward D. Young III, senior vice president for Federal Government Relations, Verizon. "From Maine to the Virginias we have irreversibly, indisputably opened the local markets to competition."

"This is not just our claim," Young said. "This filing is even stronger than those approved by the FCC for New York and Texas, and is the second time we've had an application comprehensively validated by an independent test."

The filing caps a deliberative 16-month process involving Verizon and the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy (DTE) that began with the company's state long-distance filing in May 1999. The comprehensive review included numerous filings, five public hearings, 27 technical sessions, more than 1,100 requests for detailed data, and eight months of independent testing of Verizon's operations support systems (OSS). Competitors use the OSS to order services they need from Verizon's networks and systems and to switch Verizon customers to competing services. The company met or exceeded 99 percent of the 804 test criteria administered by independent auditor KPMG Peat Marwick.

Today's FCC filing provides ample evidence that competition is thriving in the Massachusetts telecommunications marketplace:

  • Competitors are providing nearly 700,000 local phone lines in Massachusetts;
  • Verizon systems process about 1,400 local service requests from Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs) in Massachusetts each day;
  • Verizon has 85 agreements with competitors to serve customers using Verizon's facilities;
  • Verizon has more than 290,000 interconnection trunks and more than 1,600 collocation arrangements to serve competitors throughout the Commonwealth;
  • Verizon has interconnected to about 50 local switches owned by CLECs;
  • 14 million telephone numbers have been assigned to competitors.

"In New York full competition has produced savings and simplicity amid new choices," said Mudge. "In just eight months more than one million New Yorkers signed up for Verizon's surprise-free long-distance plans. And competitors, prodded by our creative offerings, intensified their marketing efforts. Bay Staters deserve no less.

"It's time Massachusetts consumers had the opportunity to choose among all carriers - including Verizon - for their local, long distance and data communications. As in New York, the benefits will be immediate."

The FCC has 90 days to review Verizon's long-distance filing. The Massachusetts DTE and the Department of Justice will make their recommendations to the FCC before it makes a final decision.

Verizon Communications Inc. (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 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.