BACKGROUND -- The Department of Justice (DOJ) today recommended that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approve Verizon's application for permission to offer long-distance service in the state of Vermont. The 1996 Telecommunications Act requires the FCC to consider DOJ's evaluation before the FCC makes a final decision. Verizon filed the Vermont application with the FCC Jan. 17. The FCC must rule on the application by April 17. The following response should be attributed to John Thorne, senior vice president and deputy general counsel for Verizon Communications.
"We are pleased that the Justice Department has recommended allowing us to provide long distance services in Vermont. The DOJ conducted a complete and thorough evaluation of our work to establish competition in the local telephone market and has now confirmed the state's conclusion that the local market is 'fully and irreversibly open.'
"We look forward to offering consumers in Vermont the same benefits from competition as enjoyed by their neighbors in Massachusetts. Verizon's entry into the long-distance markets in the other states where we have received approval has been shown to stimulate even greater competition. We are confident that the FCC will agree that the residents of Vermont should have the opportunity to reap the significant benefits that come from this all-out competition and will grant approval of our long-distance application."