PHILADELPHIA -- Pennsylvania consumers and businesses are served by one of the most advanced telecommunications networks in the country, thanks to an aggressive network investment program by Verizon Communications in 2000.
Verizon spent more than $1.1 billion to expand and upgrade its advanced Pennsylvania telecommunications infrastructure. This brings Verizon's network investment in the commonwealth to more than $3 billion in the last three years.
"As we begin the 21st century, Verizon is building a telecommunications network in Pennsylvania that is second to none," said Daniel J. Whelan, president of Verizon Pennsylvania. "Our investment in the network of the future positions Pennsylvania to be competitive nationally and globally, to grow existing jobs and attract new ones."
Verizon has also delivered on its promise to have all-digital network switching throughout the state by the end of this year, converting its last switching office earlier this month. Digital switching routes voice, data and video calls to their destinations more efficiently and reliably.
Verizon's Pennsylvania network investment in 2000 was primarily used to expand the company's fiber-optic facilities. Verizon added more than 500,000 miles of fiber in its Pennsylvania service area this year, bringing its overall fiber-optic network to about 1.4 million miles - enough to circle the earth 56 times. Fiber-optic systems use laser-generated light pulses and digital technology to provide greater capacity, higher transmission speeds and better quality voice, data and video transmitted over the network.
"The net result of our continuing network investment in Pennsylvania is that our customers receive higher quality, more reliable phone service," said Whelan. "They also will have access to myriad future telecommunications services and applications that will enhance the quality of life for all Pennsylvania citizens."
Competition Flourishes in Pennsylvania; Verizon Fights Structural Separation
Competition for local phone service accelerated throughout Pennsylvania during the year. More than 180 companies have been authorized by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) to compete with Verizon in the local service market.
"The PUC has confirmed that competitors are serving more than 1.6 million active telephone numbers in the commonwealth," said Whelan. "Any company that wants to compete in Pennsylvania can and does."
A recently completed, 18-month test of the computer systems used by competitors to switch a customer's phone service from Verizon to a competitor provides additional proof that Verizon's facilities are open. "The test -- conducted for the PUC by a widely known, independent company -- found that Verizon's operating support systems are processing competitors' orders very well," said Whelan. "Our systems scored an 'A'."
"Our network is irreversibly open to all competitors," he added. "This should hasten the day when Pennsylvanians will finally see full and fair competition in all telecommunications markets." Under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Verizon must show it has opened the local telecommunications market to competition before it can provide long-distance service in Pennsylvania.
Verizon continues to oppose the PUC's requirement that Verizon split its Pennsylvania operations into two separate companies - one for wholesale customers and another for retail customers. "Structural separation of our company is illegal, totally unnecessary and exorbitantly expensive," said Whelan. "This dismemberment will cost more than $1 billion, and consumers will ultimately bear the brunt of this needless cost.
"Verizon will continue to fight this wrong-headed separation order," he said. "We owe it to Pennsylvanians, our shareholders and our employees."
Verizon Points to Other Highlights for 2000
Whelan noted other milestones achieved by Verizon in Pennsylvania during 2000:
- The former Bell Atlantic and GTE merged to form Verizon. Verizon serves more than 7.2 million access lines and employs more than 21,000 men and women throughout Pennsylvania.
- Verizon eliminated Touch-Tone Calling charges for more than 708,000 Pennsylvanians formerly served by GTE. The savings of nearly $10 million a year was one of the first benefits of the Bell Atlantic-GTE merger. Also, following the merger, the Lifeline 150 program for eligible low-income customers became available to former GTE customers in the state.
- New products such as Call Intercept Service and 711 Service were introduced in parts of the state. The 711 Service enables hearing- and speech-impaired customers to communicate with other customers using a relay service which they can reach by dialing just three digits - 711.
- Verizon Foundation continued its support of Pennsylvania education and arts initiatives, including a $14.5 million pledge to provide a new home for the Philadelphia Orchestra. The new "Verizon Hall" in the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts will open in December 2001.
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 more than 101 million access line equivalents and more than 26 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 .