RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia consumers are a major step closer to enjoying full telecommunications competition, as Verizon today notified the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) 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 Virginia.
Verizon is seeking the SCC'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 Virginia. The FCC has 90 days to review Verizon's long-distance bid once the company files its application with the federal agency. The SCC and the U.S. Department of Justice will provide their consultations to the FCC before it makes a decision.
"It's time for Virginians to reap the benefits of full telecommunications competition that others are enjoying today," said Robert Woltz, president of Verizon Virginia. "We've worked very hard over the past few years to reach this point, and we look forward to proving our readiness to the commission.
"Virginians should be able to realize the same savings that consumers in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island now enjoy," he added.
A study by the consumer organization Telecommunications Research and Action Center (TRAC) estimated that New Yorkers are saving up to $700 million a year in local and long-distance charges since Verizon began providing long-distance service in the Empire State in January 2000. Another TRAC study forecasted that Pennsylvanians could save up to $452 million in the first year after Verizon began offering long-distance service there last October.
Verizon's filing today with the SCC provides extensive detail showing 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 Virginia.
On March 4, KPMG Consulting issued the results of an exhaustive, two-year test of Verizon's operations support systems (OSS). Competitors in Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and Washington, D.C., use these computer systems when they switch local customers' service from Verizon. KPMG Consulting is a widely known, independent auditing firm hired by the SCC to conduct the test. The test, which examined 545 "test points" involving Verizon's operations systems, demonstrated that competitors are able to compete effectively using those systems.
"Our systems scored a strong 'A' on this rigorous test," Woltz said. "These results validate the real-world experience of more than 60 competitors who currently can and do rely on Verizon's systems to provide local phone service in Virginia."
Today's SCC filing provides ample evidence that local telecommunications competition is thriving in Virginia:
- Competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) are providing more than 673,000 local phone lines throughout Virginia. Competitors are providing local service over their own facilities and over facilities leased from Verizon.
- Companies are competing for customers in every area code of the commonwealth.
- CLECs serve at least 16 percent of the total market in Verizon Virginia's service territory.
- Customers of CLECs account for more than 300,000 listings in the white pages of Verizon's SuperPages directories in Virginia.
- Sixty CLECs are currently actively providing local phone service in Virginia.
- Verizon Virginia has more than 640 collocation arrangements to serve competitors throughout the commonwealth. CLECs have access to nearly 90 percent of Verizon Virginia's lines through these arrangements.
- More than 14.2 billion minutes of local phone service was exchanged with CLECs in 2001.
During the coming weeks, the SCC will review the entire body of evidence from Verizon, its competitors and other parties. "When the SCC 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," Woltz said.
Verizon has moved aggressively to bring full telecom competition to its entire service area. In the next few weeks, the company plans to seek support for upcoming long-distance filings from the public service commissions in Maryland, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Verizon has received FCC approval to offer long-distance service in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. The company currently has long-distance applications for New Jersey and Vermont pending at the FCC. The U.S. Department of Justice and state regulators have recommended that the FCC approve these applications.
Verizon hopes to have federal approval to offer long-distance service in all remaining states by the end of this year. Verizon currently offers long-distance service in 41 states and recently announced that it had 7.6 million long-distance customers. Verizon is the country's fourth largest long-distance company.
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 132.1 million access line equivalents and 29.4 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with more than $67 billion in annual revenues and approximately 247,000 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.