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CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia consumers and businesses benefit from one of the most advanced telecommunications networks in the country as Verizon continued its aggressive investment program in the state during 2001.
This past year, the company spent approximately $150 million - nearly $2.9 million a week - to modernize, expand and upgrade the sophisticated telecommunications network that serves West Virginians.
"With a substantial annual investment in West Virginia, Verizon continues to build a telecommunications infrastructure that is second to none," said Gale Given, president of Verizon West Virginia. "Telecommunications is critical to West Virginia's economic success, and we're proud to serve the communications needs of businesses and consumers throughout the state."
West Verizon's capital investment in 2001 was used primarily to expand the company's fiber-optic and other cable facilities, as well as to increase the capacity and reliability of several of the company's call-routing centers. All of Verizon's switching centers in West Virginia use the latest digital technology systems.
Nationwide, Verizon invests more than $11 billion annually in its wireline telecommunications network, which is one of the most advanced in the world and features an industry-leading 8.3 million miles of fiber-optic facilities.
In West Virginia last year, Verizon added more than 20,500 miles of fiber optics to its network. The company has more than 217,000 miles of optical fiber in the state. Fiber-optic systems use laser-generated light pulses and digital technology to provide greater capacity, higher transmission speeds and better quality for voice, video and data transmitted over the network.
During 2001, Verizon also:
- Introduced several new services, including Call Intercept. Call Intercept screens customers' incoming calls when callers fail to identify themselves and allow users to decide if they want to receive calls from others who do announce themselves.
- Continued building self-healing, "SONET" (synchronous optical network) rings throughout the state to assure continuous service even in the event a communications cable is damaged or destroyed. SONET rings automatically reroute telecommunications traffic in the other direction so that service is not affected.
In 2001, the West Virginia Public Service Commission approved a new incentive regulation plan for Verizon that combines rate caps, continued investment and more flexible regulation as telecommunications services become increasingly competitive. Under the latest plan, Verizon will:
Lower by $18 million the rates long-distance companies pay Verizon for completing long-distance calls over Verizon's local network. If long-distance companies live up to their commitment to pass on the savings they're getting, consumers will see lower long-distance rates.
- Cap basic local service rates through 2005. These rates have remained stable for 20 years. In fact, Verizon has reduced telephone service rates by $75 million since 1988, when the company began operating under incentive regulation plans.
- Provide $2 million a year for economic development and educational initiatives such as the WORLD SCHOOL program, through which Verizon is bringing high-speed Internet connections to schools throughout the state.
- Provide $15 million to help underwrite the costs associated with digital mapping and addressing for the state. This program will help emergency crews more easily locate 911 callers.
Long-Distance Filing Planned in 2002
Verizon has opened its network and systems in West Virginia to competition by investing in advanced computer systems and providing space for competitors' equipment in Verizon's switching centers throughout the state.
More than 100 companies have been authorized to provide local phone service in the state. Verizon is required to open local markets before it can gain federal approval to sell long distance in a given state.
This year, Verizon plans to ask the West Virginia Public Service Commission to support the company's application to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for approval to offer long distance.
Since December 1999, Verizon has won FCC approval to offer long-distance service in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. The results are added choice and significant savings for customers in those states, where millions are getting lower prices and clear, surprise-free, long-distance calling plans from Verizon.
"A familiar pattern is playing out across the country - competition increases for both long-distance and local service when Verizon enters the long-distance market in a state," said Given. "In New York alone, the Telecommunications Research and Action Center - a widely respected consumer organization - estimates that consumers and businesses are enjoying $700 million a year in annual local and long-distance savings since Verizon began offering long-distance service there in January 2000.
"We're eager to bring the same benefits to consumers and businesses in West Virginia," Given said.
Verizon Gives Back to Communities
Verizon West Virginia and Verizon Foundation, Verizon's philanthropic arm, provided $2.5 million in mostly technology-related grants to agencies and nonprofit organizations throughout the state in 2001. These grants included $50,000 for technology in literacy programs across the state through the Governor's Council on Literacy and $42,000 designated for minority scholarships to the West Virginia Independent Colleges and Universities.
In addition, Verizon employees volunteered thousands of hours to community organizations, building and repairing homes and wiring schools for Internet access. Company employees and Verizon Telephone Pioneers have installed more than 1 million feet of wiring in West Virginia schools as part of the Net Day program.
"Verizon and its active and retired employees have a long tradition of giving in this state," Given said. "We're involved in the communities we serve, and we pride ourselves in being good neighbors. Our commitment to service is a vital part of the Verizon promise."
After floods devastated much of southern West Virginia last summer, Verizon employees worked around the clock to restore phone service. They also helped take calls in telethons that raised several hundred thousand dollars for flood-relief efforts. In addition, employees, Verizon West Virginia and Verizon Foundation, through a company match program, donated nearly $48,000 to flood relief in the state.
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 128.5 million access line equivalents and 28.7 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with 256,000 employees and approximately $65 billion in annual revenues, 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.