NEWARK, N.J. - In a filing with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, Verizon today proposed a new regulatory plan that includes a $20 million increase in the company's commitment to deliver advanced technology to the state's K-12 schools and public libraries. The proposal does not include a request for changes in current rates.
The proposal also will make it easier for low-income residents to qualify for Lifeline Service by including self-certification, wider eligibility for senior citizens, and expanded public education and outreach about the program.
"This plan assures that residents of every age and income level and businesses of every size and type would continue to have full access to one of the most advanced telecommunications networks in the world," said Dennis Bone, president of Verizon New Jersey.
The filing proposes no increase in the current rate of $8.19 for local phone service, the lowest rate in the nation and one that has not changed since 1985. Under the plan, the company would continue to offer basic telephone service as a stand-alone service.
All multi-line business services would be reclassified as competitive and the Board of Public Utilities would use the same rules for approving new services for all providers, instead of the separate and unequal process that now applies only to Verizon's requests.
"The plan responds to the profound changes in New Jersey's telecommunications marketplace which is becoming increasingly competitive," said Bone. "As that competition continues to grow, this proposal offers a clear path for continuing the orderly transition from the regulated services of a bygone era to a broad spectrum of competitive services in the new millennium."
The new plan would go into effect Jan. 1, 2002 when the current regulatory plan
The filing proposes the following enhancements to Access New Jersey (ANJ), Verizon's agreement with the state to provide data and video services for K-12 schools and libraries:
- Adding $14 million to Verizon's fund for special equipment used to access high-speed services and expanding the fund to include additional gear used for video services. Verizon already has provided over $26 million to the fund and has connected 2,074 public schools and libraries in the state to its advanced telecommunications network.
- Providing $6 million to support and expand interactive video services for K-12 students. Last year, Verizon became the first local phone company to offer a video gateway, which enables New Jersey schools to hold live, interactive classes for students statewide without incurring long-distance charges. More than 100 schools have registered to use the video portal.
- Extending the availability of discounted ANJ rates to schools and libraries until the end of 2004 and continuing contracts signed through 2004 for a minimum of three additional years, to 2007.
Bone noted that since 1993 Verizon has invested $6.7 billion in its telecommunications network and support systems serving New Jersey. Last year, Verizon invested a record
$1.26 billion in the Garden State.
"No other corporation has invested as much in our state or done more to keep our citizens and our economy competitive in the Internet Age," said Bone. "We are proud of the critical role we play in keeping everyone in New Jersey connected, even as our competitors continue to pick and choose whom they will serve."
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, visit www.verizon.com.