WASHINGTON - The momentum for Verizon long distance in Pennsylvania is growing, as nearly 70 national and state organizations and individuals have urged federal approval of Verizon's application to offer long-distance service in the state.
The organizations and individuals have expressed their support in letters and formal comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). These filings and letters follow the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission's (PUC) recommendation that the FCC approve Verizon's application.
''The voices are building to a crescendo in support of Verizon's entry into the Pennsylvania long-distance market,'' said Daniel J. Whelan, president of Verizon Pennsylvania. ''The record is comprehensive and compelling: It's time for Pennsylvanians to enjoy the benefits of full telecom competition.''
The FCC has received filings and letters of support for Verizon's long-distance application from four members of the Philadelphia City Council, as well as the Chester County Development Council, Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau, Harrisburg Hello, Nash Communications, Karl & Associates and the Tri-County, North Penn and Chester County chambers of commerce.
These individuals and groups join several dozen other supporters from Pennsylvania, including:
- The mayors of Philadelphia and Allentown, two of the largest cities in the commonwealth; the chief executive of Allegheny County, the state's second-largest county; and the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities.
- Economic development and job-training organizations such as the Philadelphia Commercial Development Corp., Edmonds & Associates, Pittsburgh Film Office and Fay-Penn Economic Development Council.
- Business groups such as the Lehigh County Chamber of Commerce, Paul A. Bennett Communications, Squires Consulting, Hispanic Business Council of the Lehigh Valley, Alpha Office Supplies and Harrisburg Magazine.
- Educational and community organizations such as the Berean Institute, Philadelphia Opportunities Industrial Center, Montgomery County Association for the Blind, Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health and Urban League of Philadelphia.
National organizations that are supporting Verizon's long-distance application through individual and joint filings include:
- Consumer and special-interest groups such as the Telecommunications Research and Action Center (TRAC), Keep America Connected!, National Association of Community Action Agencies, National Association of Commissions for Women and United Seniors Health Council.
- Civil rights and minority organizations such as the National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Urban League, National Hispanic Council on Aging, National Trust for the Development of African-American Men and National Indian Education Association.
- Support groups for people who are disabled such as the American Council for the Blind, American Association of People with Disabilities and World Institute on Disability.
On June 21, Verizon asked the FCC for approval to offer long-distance service to Pennsylvanians. The filing followed a comprehensive, two-year review of the company's readiness by state regulators. In making its decision to support Verizon's long-distance application, the PUC examined an exhaustive body of evidence from Verizon, its competitors and others to determine if Pennsylvania's local phone market is open to competition.
The state commission also scrutinized the performance of Verizon's operations support systems. Competitors use these systems to switch Verizon customers' local service to their companies. The PUC analyzed three months of data on these systems' actual performance, along with the results of a thorough, 18-month system test conducted by an independent auditing firm selected by the PUC.
On June 22, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission recommended to the FCC that it approve Verizon's application, concluding that ''the Pennsylvania local telephone markets are irreversibly open to competition,'' and that ''allowing Verizon (Pennsylvania) into the in-region long-distance market will provide additional public benefit by giving Pennsylvania customers greater choice in that market as well.''
The FCC has until Sept. 19 to decide on Verizon's application.
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) 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 112 million access line equivalents and 27 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with approximately 260,000 employees and more than $65 billion in annual 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