WASHINGTON -- Verizon today filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to offer long-distance service in Maine, continuing the company's efforts to spread the benefits of all-out competition in the Northeast.
"This application builds on our successful filings for other New England states and advances our ability to offer a complete menu of telecommunications products to our customers on the East Coast," said Tom Tauke, senior vice president of public policy and external affairs for Verizon.
As a former regional Bell company, Verizon must get FCC approval before it can offer long distance in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states where it provides local phone service.
The FCC has 90 days to review Verizon's long-distance application. The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the U.S. Department of Justice will provide their recommendations to the FCC before it makes a final decision. The Maine PUC early this month announced that it supports the Verizon long-distance application.
"Consumers in Maine deserve the competitive savings that our customers in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York enjoy," said Edward Dinan, president of Verizon Maine. "As in these states, Verizon's entry into long distance will stimulate real competition, not only in long distance, but also in local service.
"Local competition is substantial in Maine," Dinan said. "But in states where Verizon has received long-distance approval from the FCC, our entry has stimulated even greater competition, not only in long-distance offerings, but also in local-service packages. It's time for residents and businesses in Maine to reap the benefits that only Verizon's entry into long distance will bring."
Research indicates annual savings exceeding $1.8 billion for consumers in the Northeast from local and long-distance competition associated with Verizon's entry into long-distance markets, according to studies analyzed by Verizon.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, an independent consulting firm, verified after an exhaustive review that Verizon's operations support systems in Maine are the same as those in Massachusetts, where Verizon's application was approved by the FCC last spring. Competitors use Verizon's systems to provide their own service or to switch local customers' service from Verizon.
"There is no question that we've met or exceeded all the federal requirements," said Tauke. "Telecommunications companies are using Verizon systems in commercial volumes to compete in Maine."
In December 1999, Verizon (then Bell Atlantic) became the first Bell company to gain FCC approval to offer long distance in its own service area when it won federal approval for New York, enabling the company to provide one-stop shopping for domestic and international telecommunications services to all its customers there. The company has since received FCC permission to provide long distance in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
Verizon has an application seeking long-distance approval for Vermont pending at the FCC. The FCC has said it will rule on the Vermont application by April 17.
Verizon Long Distance is the fourth-largest long-distance service provider in the country, serving 8 million customers in 41 states.
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