BACKGROUND: The West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) on June 1 ordered Verizon to reduce its in-state access charges by
approximately $18 million. Local telephone companies, like Verizon, charge long-distance companies for completing calls over the local companies' networks.
Those revenues help pay for their huge investment in the local telephone network, which helps keep customers' local service rates affordable. The following
response should be attributed to Gale Given, president of Verizon West Virginia.
"Unfortunately, this order clearly ignores the real world of providing telecommunications in West Virginia. We intend to petition for reconsideration and,
when we do, we will show that the commission was misguided in seeking to mirror in-state and interstate access rates.
"Verizon has invested more than $1 billion in its West Virginia network. A reduction of this kind effectively allows the big long-distance companies to
escape paying for their fair share of using that network and keeping phone service affordable.
"In a sense, AT&T and the other long-distance companies would get a free ride on our West Virginia network at the expense of consumers. And - if
those big boys don't pay -- the burden falls to Verizon and, ultimately, to our customers. There's no question that a large reduction in access charges will create
pressure to raise prices for other phone services.
"In addition, people shouldn't hold their breath waiting for AT&T and others to pass along any savings. They wouldn't have battled so hard for this
reduction if they thought they would have to turn around and hand it over to all their customers.
"Isn't it ironic that AT&T would raise its interstate long-distance rates on the very day that the PSC orders Verizon to reduce in-state access charges?
AT&T is playing an elaborate shell game, as it has done so often in other states and on the federal level. We've seen it before, and we refuse to allow them
to hoodwink West Virginians in the same fashion."