MANCHESTER, N.H. - New Hampshire consumers are a major step closer to enjoying full telecommunications competition.
Verizon today formally notified the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that the company plans by year's end to file an application 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 Hampshire.
In the filing, the company is seeking the state commission'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 Hampshire consumers to reap the benefits of full telecommunications competition,'' said J. Michael Hickey, president of Verizon New Hampshire. ''We have worked long and hard to reach this point, and we look forward to proving our readiness to the PUC.''
''Granite Staters will soon realize the same savings that New Yorkers and Bay Staters now enjoy,'' said Hickey. 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 agency is currently reviewing the company's application for Pennsylvania.
Last week Verizon notified Rhode Island regulators that it expects to file in late October with the FCC for approval in the Ocean State. The company also plans to seek FCC approval this year in Vermont and New Jersey.
Verizon's filing today with the New Hampshire PUC 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 Hampshire.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers, a widely known, independent auditing firm, recently issued a report verifying that Verizon's operations support systems (OSS) for New Hampshire are the same as those already reviewed by the FCC when it approved Verizon's application in Massachusetts. Competitors use Verizon's systems to support their own sales and service activities within New Hampshire.
Today's PUC filing provides ample evidence that local telecommunications competition is thriving in New Hampshire:
- Almost 120,000 New Hampshire telephone customers are served by competitors (43,500 via competitors' leasing of Verizon's lines on a wholesale basis, and 76,500 via competitors' own lines and networks.)
- Some 1.7 million telephone numbers have been assigned to competitors.
- Verizon has 51 approved agreements with competitors to link its network with theirs, enabling the competitors to provide local service. More than 40 companies currently use Verizon's computer systems to serve their New Hampshire customers.
- In New Hampshire, Verizon has more than 50,000 trunk lines linking its network with those of competitors, and Verizon has 206 arrangements in which competitors' communications equipment is collocated in Verizon's switching offices.
- Competitors have access to 80 percent of Verizon's residential lines and 90 percent of Verizon's business lines in New Hampshire through these collocation arrangements.
- In the first five months of 2001, voice and data calls originating on Verizon's network and terminating on competitors' networks totaled more than 1.7 billion minutes.
Before Verizon files with the FCC, the PUC 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.
''When the PUC completes its exhaustive examination of the record, we're confident it will support our long-distance application to the FCC,'' said Hickey.
The FCC has 90 days to review Verizon's long-distance bid once the company completes the PUC's review process and files its application with the FCC. The New Hampshire PUC 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 approximately $65 billion in annual revenues and about 260,000 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