CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia consumers are a major step closer to enjoying full telecommunications competition.
Verizon today notified the West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) that the company plans to file an application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) later this year to offer long-distance service in the state.
"It's time for West Virginians to reap the benefits of full telecommunications competition that others are enjoying today," said Gale Given, president of Verizon West Virginia. "Mountain State consumers should be able to realize the same savings that consumers in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island enjoy.
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 West Virginia.
Verizon is seeking the PSC's support of its upcoming long-distance application with the FCC, which ultimately has the authority to allow Verizon to offer long-distance service in the Mountain State. The FCC has 90 days to review Verizon's long-distance bid once the company files its application with the federal agency. The PSC and the U.S. Department of Justice will provide their consultations to the FCC before it makes a decision.
"We've worked very hard over the past few years to reach this point, and we look forward to proving our readiness," said Given.
Consumers are saving $1.8 billion annually from local and long-distance competition associated with Verizon's entry into long-distance markets in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions, according to studies analyzed by Verizon.
The savings are based on projections from a variety of sources, including the Telecommunications Research Action Center, noted economist Dr. Jerry Hausman, Consumer Federation of America, TeleNomic Research and BBK Anderson Economic Group.
The research shows that after Verizon's entry into long distance, both local and long-distance competitors work harder to gain and keep customers. "Customers always win when this happens," said Given. "As Verizon is permitted to enter the long-distance market, the benefits of long-distance competition will become available to more customers, substantially increasing the $1.8 billion in consumer savings."
Today's filing with the PSC provides extensive detail showing that Verizon West Virginia has met a 14-point competitive checklist specified in the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996. This checklist stipulates the criteria former 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 West Virginia.
The filing provides ample evidence that local telecommunications competition is present and growing in the Mountain State:
- Competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) are providing more than 36,900 local phone lines to businesses and consumers throughout Verizon's service area in West Virginia. Competitors are providing local service over their own facilities and over facilities leased from Verizon.
- More than 100 CLECs are certified to provide local phone service in West Virginia. Approximately 20 of these companies currently are actively competing in the state.
- Verizon has approximately 40 existing collocation arrangements to serve competitors throughout the state. CLECs have access to more than half of Verizon's lines through these arrangements.
- Verizon and CLECs exchanged more than 350 million minutes of local calls over their networks in the first three months of 2002, an average of approximately 119 million minutes per month. That represents a 68-percent increase in the average monthly minutes per month over 2001, and the average minutes per month in 2001 had increased more than 800 percent over 1999.
During the coming months, the PSC will review the entire body of evidence from Verizon, its competitors and other parties.
"When the PSC completes its exhaustive examination of the record, we're confident it will support our long-distance application to the FCC," Given said.
Verizon has moved aggressively to bring full telecom competition to its entire service area. Since December 1999, Verizon has received FCC approval to offer long-distance service in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. The company currently has long-distance applications for New Jersey and Maine pending at the FCC, and rulings are expected by the end of June.
Verizon, the country's fourth-largest long-distance company, currently offers long-distance service in 42 states and recently announced that it has 8.2 million long-distance customers.
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 133.8 million access line equivalents and approximately 29.6 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. With more than $67 billion in annual revenues and nearly 248,000 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.