Verizon Expands Local Calling for Customers in Prince William County, Part of Stafford County

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MANASSAS, Va. -- Beginning Feb. 6, Verizon customers in Prince William County and northern Stafford County will be able to call inside the beltway to Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax at no additional charge.

"We said that our merger would bring real and lasting benefits to our customers. This is just one of many such benefits," said Robert Woltz, president of Verizon Virginia.

Bell Atlantic and GTE agreed early last year to expand local calling areas throughout Virginia, pending successful completion of their merger. Included in the pre-merger commitments was a promise to provide GTE customers in Prince William County exchanges and in the Stafford exchange with unlimited local calling to nearly all of the 703 and 571 area codes in Northern Virgina. The only exceptions are the Leesburg and Ashburn exchanges in Loudoun County, which will remain long-distance calls.

The two parent companies merged June 30, 2000, forming Verizon Communications, and immediately began taking steps to fulfill the commitments.

The change in the local calling plan affects 128,000 customers in the following Prince William exchanges: Dale City, Haymarket, Independent Hill, Manassas, Nokesville and Occoquan. In addition, nearly 20,000 Stafford County customers are affected in the Stafford exchange, which serves the northern part of the county.

"Many customers in these former GTE exchanges have told us they want unlimited local calling into Northern Virginia," Woltz said. "We listened, and we're responding. Many will enjoy a savings on their phone bill, and we hope they'll be delighted with this change."

Some of Verizon's Prince William customers already have local calling to of the exchanges of Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax, but they pay a modest per-minute charge when they make such calls. Calls from other Prince William exchanges to that area are now long distance. Those per-minute charges will be eliminated.

Stafford customers currently pay long-distance charges when they call customers in most of the 703 and 571 area codes.

With the elimination of long distance for Stafford customers and the significant expansion of that exchange's local calling area, basic monthly rates will increase. Residential service for Stafford customers will increase $1.80 a month; business service will rise $4.11 a month. Stafford customers approved the rate increases in a survey earlier this year, and the increases subsequently were approved by the Virginia State Corporation Commission.

There will be no change in rates for Prince William customers as a result of the expanded local calling.

In addition, Verizon is in the process of eliminating per-minute charges on calls placed to adjacent exchanges. The total cost to the company approaches $23 million annually.


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