Verizon Asks PUC to Support Company's Request To Offer Long Distance in Pennsylvania
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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Pennsylvania consumers are a major step closer to enjoying full telecommunications competition, as Verizon Communications
today notified the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) that it soon plans 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 Pennsylvania.
The PUC requires that Verizon notify the commission 100 days in advance of its intent to file a long-distance application with the FCC. Verizon is seeking the
PUC's support of its long-distance application.
"It's time for Pennsylvanians to reap the benefits of full telecommunications competition," said Daniel J. Whelan, president of Verizon Pennsylvania.
"We have worked very hard over the past two years to reach this point, and we look forward to proving our readiness to the PUC.
"It's time for Pennsylvanians to realize the same savings that New Yorkers now enjoy," said Whelan. Consumers in New York have saved
approximately $250 million in local and long-distance charges since Verizon began providing long-distance service in the Empire State one year ago, according
to an independent study by the Telecommunications Research and Action Center.
Verizon's filing today with the PUC provides extensive detail showing that the company has met a 14-point competitive checklist specified in the federal
Telecommunications Act of 1996. A copy of today's filing is available at http://newscenter2.verizon.com/policy/longdistance. 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 Pennsylvania.
Last month, KPMG Consulting 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. KPMG Consulting is a widely known, independent auditing firm hired by the PUC to
conduct the test. The test, which examined 585 "test points" involving Verizon's operating systems, demonstrated that competitors are able to
compete effectively using those systems.
"Our systems scored an 'A' on this rigorous test," said Whelan. "These results validate the real-world experience of more than 85 competitors
who currently can and do rely on Verizon's systems to provide local phone service in Pennsylvania."
Today's PUC filing provides ample evidence that local telecommunications competition is thriving in Pennsylvania:
- More than 670,000 Pennsylvania telephone customers are served by competitors (220,000 via competitors' leasing of Verizon's lines on a wholesale
basis, and 450,000 via competitors' own lines and networks.)
- Nearly 20 million telephone numbers have been assigned to competitors. In addition, the PUC reported that competitors had more than 1.6 million working
telephone numbers as of October 1999. "That number certainly has increased in the 14 months since then," said Whelan.
- Verizon has 164 PUC-approved agreements with competitors to link its network with theirs for local service. More than 85 companies currently use
Verizon's computer systems to serve Pennsylvania customers.
- In Pennsylvania, Verizon has more than 310,000 trunk lines linking its network with those of competitors, and Verizon has 1,700 arrangements in which
competitors' communications equipment is collocated in Verizon's switching offices.
- Competitors have access to 85 percent of Verizon's residential lines and 91 percent of business lines in Pennsylvania through these collocation arrangements.
- In the first 10 months of 2000, voice and data calls originating on Verizon's network and terminating on competitors' networks totaled more than 15 billion
minutes - a 32 percent increase over volumes for all of 1999.
During the next 100 days, the PUC will review the entire body of evidence from Verizon, its competitors and other parties. The PUC will hold intensive
workshops to analyze this evidence, followed by hearings before the full commission. In addition, the PUC will examine results of three months' commercial
activity involving the performance of Verizon's operating support systems in addition to the independent test conducted by KPMG Consulting.
"When the PUC completes its exhaustive examination of the record, the KPMG Consulting test results and competitors' actual experience using our
computer systems, we're confident it will support our long-distance application to the FCC," said Whelan.
The FCC has 90 days to review Verizon's long-distance bid once the company completes the PUC's 100-day process and files its application with the FCC.
The Pennsylvania PUC and the U.S. Department of Justice will provide their consultations to the FCC before it makes a decision.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, 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 more than 101 million access line equivalents and
more than 26 million wireless customers. A Fortune 10 company with more than 260,000 employees and approximately $60 billion in 1999 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.
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