WASHINGTON -- AT&T today announced it would begin to provide local telephone service in Washington, D.C., four days after the District of Columbia Public Service Commission reiterated its support for Verizon Washington D.C.'s application with the Federal Communications Commission to offer long-distance service in the District. The following statement should be attributed to Harry Mitchell, director-media relations, Verizon:
"AT&T is belatedly joining an already crowded field providing Washington consumers and businesses with the benefits of fierce telecommunications competition.
"Unfortunately, AT&T continues to play its game of regulatory extortion, threatening that it will only keep its promise to enter the market if the District of Columbia Public Service Commission keeps the radically low wholesale rates it set last month. If these rates take effect, they would force Verizon to lose money on every wholesale line it sells and make it economically foolish for any competitor to build its own network in the city. This would in turn bring to a halt the robust network investment being made by telecom companies, particularly Verizon, and harm real competition in Washington.
"For all of these reasons, we have asked the commission to reconsider these fire-sale rates."