BLOOMINGTON, Ill. - The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has approved Verizon North's request to establish a new Optional Extended Area Service Plan that would expand the local calling area for consumers in 21 exchanges across the state. Verizon, which is the national telecommunications company formed by the merger of GTE and Bell Atlantic, plans to make additional filings at the ICC to make the new plan available to all its Verizon North telephone customers in the state over the next 18 months.
"Consumers will have more choices with the Optional Extended Area Service Plan, as well as lower-priced alternatives," said James R. Hargrave, Verizon assistant vice president-regulatory & government affairs for Illinois. "We are continually working to enhance the value of our service for customers."
The plan gives customers the choice of making calls to a number of additional communities without paying long distance charges. It enlarges local calling areas to include all exchanges within a customer's local toll-calling area that are within a 15-mile radius of their exchange.
Customers in Auburn, Chatham, Divernon, Fayetteville, Freeport, Hebron, Hecker, Loami, Mascoutah, Millstadt, New Baden, New Berlin, Pawnee, Pleasant Plains, Richmond, Sherman, Spring Grove, Summerfield, Westview, Williamsville and Wonder Lake will be able to choose the new plan starting July 31. (EDITOR'S NOTE: New local calling areas for customers in these exchanges are included at the end of this release.)
"We encourage our customers to closely examine their telephone bills to help determine which calling plan would be the most cost-effective for them," Hargrave said.
Customers may enroll in the Optional Extended Area Service Plan or the Per-Call Option by calling the toll-free number for ordering or changing service listed in their telephone directory. Complete information on the new plan also is being mailed to customers during August. An enrollment form included with that mailing can be used to order the new plan.
Customers who select the new Optional Extended Area Service Plan will be able to place local calls to additional nearby communities priced at local Usage Sensitive Service (USS) rates. Residential customers also can choose the 11-cent Per-call Option. Those rates are:
- Usage Sensitive Service (USS): A $17.09 monthly fee, plus a call-connection charge of
3-cents per-call and a 1.8-cent per minute calling charge. These charges are discounted 50 percent on weekends, holidays and from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. weekdays.
- 11 cent per call option (for residential customers only): A $17.09 monthly residential fee plus a flat, 11-cent per call charge with no per-minute charge for calls within the service area. These charges also are discounted 50 percent on weekends, holidays and from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. weekdays).
Earlier this month, the company announced plans to reduce local prices in Illinois by $10.03 million and to invest $270 million over three years in its existing telecommunications infrastructure.
"When the Illinois Commerce Commission approved the GTE-Bell Atlantic merger last March, we committed to bringing new choices to Illinois consumers and to delivering a full range of telecommunications services throughout the state. The new Optional Extended Area Service Plan is proof of that commitment," Hargrave said.
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ), formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, 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 more than 100 million access line equivalents and 25.6 million wireless customers. A Fortune 10 company with more than 260,000 employees and approximately $60 billion in 1999 revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.