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CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Verizon West Virginia invested nearly $180 million last year to expand and upgrade its telecommunications network in the
state, a record for the company.
"Verizon, like its predecessor Bell Atlantic, is committed to ensuring that West Virginians have a telecommunications network that is among the very finest
in the nation," said Gale Given, president of Verizon West Virginia. "Our investments far exceed what any other telecommunications provider is
doing in West Virginia."
Verizon pumped $3.5 million a week into West Virginia, much of it for improvements in the company's infrastructure. This construction outlay tops the company's
1999 investment of $167 million by more than seven percent. and is double the investment of 1996.
A major portion of the investment was aimed at supporting the deployment of new technologies. This included the continued build-out of WEST VIRGINIA
2001, a sophisticated network using ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) technology to transmit voice, data and video at extremely high speeds over the same
West Virginia was among the first states to harness ATM technology, the first application of which was to support its judicial system. An interactive video link
between local jails and courthouses allows prisoners to be arraigned remotely, saving taxpayers the cost and risk of transporting the prisoners. The Courtroom
of the Future, as it's called, is currently serving the Cabell and Kanawa county courthouses and the regional jail in Charleston.
"Verizon's investment reflected the ever-increasing demand for telecommunications services," Given said. "Even with slower economic growth
and growing telecommunications competition in the state last year, the number of our telephone access lines continued to grow."
At the end of 2000, Verizon had 916,000 access lines in the state, a 4.1 percent increase over 1999.
"Our customers continue to add second and third phone lines at home at a rapid rate," Given said. "Years ago, customers who ordered
second lines usually did so to accommodate teen-aged children. Today, teenagers still are the reason for many additional lines, but we also provide lines for
computers and fax machines."
Demand for high-speed connections continued to grow markedly during the past year. Verizon saw a 51-percent increase in orders for ISDN (Integrated
Services Digital Network) lines. At the end of the year, the company had 67,473 ISDN lines in service.
Also, in an effort to satisfy customers' appetite for high-speed telecommunications, Verizon introduced DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) service to the
Charleston-Huntington markets. DSL is a high-speed connection to the Internet that enables users to connect to cyberspace at speeds much faster than today's
fastest analog modems.
Competition for local telephone service continued to spread quickly in the Mountain State. While Verizon added 15,000 lines in 2000, competitors gained
14,000 lines. Currently, more than 90 companies are authorized by the state Public Service Commission to offer local service in West Virginia. "The local
phone market in West Virginia is open to any company that wants to compete," said Given.
Verizon added 150 employees in West Virginia, ending the year with 3,300 employees in the state, a net gain of five percent over the end of 1999. In the last
two years Verizon has had a net gain in West Virginia of 450 employees.
The overall increase in Verizon's employment stems in part from the creation of a new work center in Huntington. The center provides maintenance and repair
service to long-distance companies and Internet service providers from throughout the New England and Mid-Atlantic states.
"This center has consistently been recognized for its high level of service," Given said. "This confirms something we've known for a long time,
that West Virginians make excellent employees. They go the extra mile to assist the customer."
Given added that she is excited about the challenges ahead for her business. "Telecommunications will play an even greater role in how we conduct our
day-to-day lives. Verizon will be ready with an increasing array of innovative products and services to satisfy the needs and wants of this technology-hungry
marketplace," she said.
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 nearly 109 million access line equivalents and more than 27.5 million wireless customers. Verizon
is also the world's largest provider of print and online directory information. A Fortune 10 company with approximately 260,000 employees and more than $63
billion in annual revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon,