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Verizon: AT&T Plan Means Higher Bills

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NEW YORK -- In an attempt to counter declines in AT&T's consumer long-distance service, the company today announced a new calling plan that, if chosen, would amount to a substantial rate increase for most customers. The plan offers a high rate to call only other AT&T customers. AT&T suffers from competition not only from new long-distance offerings by Verizon in a number of states, but from significant competition for long-distance calls from cellular services like Verizon Wireless. The following response should be attributed to Jill Wagner, vice president of Retail Markets for Verizon.

"The plan announced today amounts to another rate increase for AT&T customers. The
majority of long-distance callers have monthly bills that are far lower than the $19.95 a month
charge for this plan, and these customers can choose to call anyone they want without worrying
whether the person they are calling is another AT&T customer.

"AT&T chooses to suggest that its problem is that companies like Verizon are attacking
AT&T's market. While it is true that millions of AT&T customers have switched to Verizon
Long Distance as soon as regulatory barriers have fallen, that is not AT&T's major problem.
Instead, AT&T is losing millions of minutes of long-distance traffic to wireless companies like
Verizon Wireless. Now that AT&T no longer has a wireless offer, this competition is fiercely
eating into the company's revenue.

"Wireless or wireline, at Verizon we don't care which you use. Just make the call. "