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PUC-Directed Wholesale Rates Threaten Telecom Investment; Action Ignores Widespread Competition

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HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today approved, with modifications, the wholesale telecommunications rates Verizon Pennsylvania can charge competitors to lease parts of its network. Verizon had filed revised rates Jan. 26 as directed by the commission in a December 2003 order. The following statement should be attributed to James V. O'Rourke, president and CEO of Verizon Pennsylvania.

"These below-cost wholesale rates hurt Pennsylvania's ability to remain a leader in broadband deployment and seriously threaten investment in new technologies.

"This decision requires our customers to subsidize our large competitors, like AT&T and MCI, while taking investment capital away from the companies that are actually building networks in Pennsylvania. That's not good for the commonwealth, consumers or the economy.

"Our industry has changed dramatically in the last few years, and prices for Verizon's wholesale services must fully recognize the impact of those changes, reflect our costs and comply with federal law. These rates clearly do not.

"We will review the commission's final order before deciding our next steps."