Verizon Takes Steps to Ensure Uninterrupted Service for Wholesale Customers Using Enterprise-Level Switching

NEW YORK - Verizon is notifying its wholesale customers of the steps it is taking to ensure service continuity for service arrangements eliminated by binding federal law. The affected service arrangements are those that previously used unbundled switching to provide switched dial-tone services to certain multi-line or enterprise-level end-users.

"Our goal is that service to customers remain uninterrupted even though the law has changed and the rules under which the service is provided have changed," said Virginia Ruesterholz, Verizon's president for Wholesale Markets. "Our decision is based on FCC rulings that go back as long as five years and an appeals court decision. Clearly, it is now time to make these changes, but these changes still allow our wholesale customers to get what they need from Verizon at a reasonable price."

In a pair of orders from 1999 and 2003, the FCC concluded that local telephone companies need not provide unbundled switching to competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) for use in serving certain multi-line or enterprise-level end-users. This aspect of the FCC rules recently was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals on March 2. Prior to the FCC rulings, Verizon was forced to provide these services at below-cost rates to its wholesale customers, known as competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs).

As a first step in the implementation process, Verizon has notified the CLECs that it intends to continue providing the affected services through August 22, 2004. In addition, Verizon has offered to convert existing affected lines to resale arrangements or to mutually agreeable commercial terms.

Should a CLEC fail to take advantage of either offering before August 23, Verizon will migrate the affected service arrangements to a charge based on their resale equivalent. No service interruption is needed to make these changes, and CLECs will be able to continue to use the Verizon network.

After August 22, 2004, unless individual CLEC contracts require otherwise, Verizon also will no longer accept orders for the affected service arrangements.

Of course, CLECs will continue to be able to obtain wholesale dial-tone services from Verizon for these two classes of customers under existing resale arrangements or pursuant to mutually agreeable commercial terms.

Meanwhile, Verizon continues negotiating commercial agreements to provide wholesale service to the CLEC community. Verizon has already announced the signing of letters of intent with two CLECs for wholesale services that will be used to serve enterprise-level end-users.

In addition, for CLECs serving other mass market customers, Verizon announced its Wholesale Advantage plan on April 21, which provides all elements previously available under UNE-P arrangements at a reasonable price. Wholesale Advantage also offers CLECs additional services not formerly available to them from Verizon including voice mail and digital subscriber line or DSL service.

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