NEWARK, N.J. - New Jersey consumers are a major step closer to enjoying full telecommunications competition.
Verizon today formally notified the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) that the company plans to file an application in December with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to offer long-distance service in the state.
Saying that the local phone market is obviously and irreversibly open to competition, Verizon is taking the next step in its bid to offer long-distance service to consumers and businesses in New Jersey. The BPU asked that Verizon notify the board 90 days in advance of its intent to file a long-distance application with the FCC.
In the filing, the company is seeking the board's support of that long-distance application. Only the FCC can grant final permission for long-distance entry by Verizon on a state-by-state basis.
"It's time for New Jerseyans to realize the same savings that New Yorkers and Bay Staters now enjoy," said Dennis Bone, president of Verizon New Jersey.
Consumers in New York are saving up to $700 million annually in local and long-distance charges since Verizon began providing long-distance service in the Empire State in January 2000, according to an independent study by the Telecommunications Research and Action Center.
Some 253,000 Massachusetts's residents have signed up for Verizon's gimmick-free, long-distance plans since the company received FCC approval in April to offer long-distance service in the Bay State. On July 20, the FCC approved Verizon's application to offer long-distance service in Connecticut. The commission is currently reviewing the company's application for Pennsylvania.
Verizon also recently notified regulators in Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont that it expects to file by year's end with the FCC for approval in those states.
Verizon's filing today with New Jersey regulators shows in extensive detail that the company has met a 14-point competitive checklist specified in the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996. This checklist stipulates the criteria regional Bell companies must satisfy to demonstrate they have opened their local networks to competitors. Meeting this checklist is a prerequisite for Verizon to receive federal permission to offer long-distance service in New Jersey.
KPMG Consulting, Inc., an independent, third-party consultant retained by the board, today issued the results of an exhaustive, 18-month test of Verizon's operating support systems (OSS). These systems are used by competitors when they switch local customers' service from Verizon. The test, which examined 536 "test points" involving Verizon's operating systems, demonstrated that competitors are able to compete effectively using those systems.
"Zero defect - a 100-percent score -- was the board's standard for completion of the test," said Bone. "A military-style approach was used. If a problem was found, it was fixed and re-tested. Moreover, the types of orders tested represented the entire market place and were broader than those likely to be experienced by an individual competitor."
Today's board filing provides ample evidence that local telecommunications competition is thriving in New Jersey:
- Almost 485,000 New Jersey telephone customers are served by competitors (195,000 via competitors' leasing of Verizon's lines on a wholesale basis, and 290,000 via competitors' own lines and networks).
- Some 13 million telephone numbers have been assigned to competitors.
- Verizon has more than 160 approved agreements with competitors to link its network with theirs, enabling the competitors to provide local service. Approximately 100 competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) are active in New Jersey.
- In New Jersey, Verizon has approximately 298,000 trunk lines linking its network with those of competitors, and Verizon has more than 1,000 arrangements in which competitors' communications equipment is collocated in Verizon's switching offices.
- Competitors have access to nearly 90 percent of Verizon's residential lines and more than 94 percent of Verizon's business lines in New Jersey through these collocation arrangements.
- In the first six months of 2001, voice and data calls exchanged between Verizon's network and competitors' networks totaled more than 11 billion minutes - a 90 percent increase over the volume for the same period in 2000.
Before Verizon files with the FCC, the board will review all the evidence provided by the company, its competitors and other parties to verify that the local market is irreversibly open to competition.
The FCC has 90 days to review Verizon's long-distance bid once the company completes the board's review process and files its application with the FCC. The New Jersey board and the U.S. Department of Justice will provide their consultations to the FCC before it makes a decision.
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 125 million access line equivalents and approximately 28 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with about 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.