Verizon Poll Petersburg, Colonial Heights Customers Whether to Change Local Calling Plan to Richmond

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Unlimited local calling between Richmond and Petersburg/Colonial Heights could become a reality if the majority of customers responding to an upcoming Verizon survey favor such a move. Surveys will be mailed next week to all customers in the Petersburg exchange, which includes the city of Colonial Heights.

Customers now pay extra for calls between the two exchanges through Verizon's Community Choice Plan. A proposed plan, Extended Local Service, would eliminate such charges, but would also increase basic monthly rates in the Petersburg exchange. Richmond rates would also increase. The exact amount of Richmond's increase is not yet known.

Those who frequently call between the two exchanges would save money if the new plan is adopted. On the other hand, customers in Petersburg and Colonial Heights who rarely call Richmond could see their local telephone costs rise.

"We want to know what our customers in Petersburg and Colonial Heights think," said Robert Woltz, president of Verizon Virginia. "This is their decision."

Petersburg customers' basic phone charges would go up if the proposal is adopted. Customers with Flat Rate Service (unlimited local calling) would see an increase in their basic monthly rate of $3.92. For business customers with the same service, the rate would jump $14.55.The increases for Message Rate Service would be smaller: $2.36 for residential customers and $3.01 for businesses.

Under the Community Choice Plan, which was launched in 1993, customers have three options for paying for calls between the Richmond and Petersburg exchanges:

  1. Minutes of use -- The first minute is 7.9 cents and each additional minute is 4.5 cents
  2. Timed Message Units -- Twenty cents for each message unit. A message unit is a five-minute increment or less.
  3. Unlimited Calling -- For a monthly rate of $15, residential customers can make unlimited local calls between the two exchanges. The cost for business customers is $26.

Verizon is conducting the survey in response to a petition to the State Corporation Commission by 3,000 customers in Petersburg and Colonial Heights, who are seeking a change in their local service to Richmond. The survey should be returned to Verizon by March 1.

Should the respondents favor the survey, Verizon would conduct a cost study to determine to what extent basic rates would be affected in the Richmond exchange. Richmond customers also would be given an opportunity to comment on the plan.

If customers in both exchanges want the proposed plan, the Extended Local Service could be implemented by early next year.

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