PROVIDENCE, R.I. - In a move to bring Rhode Islanders the benefits of all-out competition for their telecommunications services, Verizon Communications today filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to offer long-distance service in the state.
Rhode Island becomes the fifth state where Verizon has applied for approval to offer long distance. 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 Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the U.S. Department of Justice will provide their recommendations to the FCC before it makes its final decision.
Verizon received the PUC's unqualified support Nov. 15.
"Local competition is already thriving in Rhode Island," said Donna Cupelo, region president of Verizon in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. "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 Rhode Island to reap the benefits that only Verizon's entry into long-distance will bring."
Consumers in New York are saving up to $700 million annually in local and long-distance charges since Verizon began providing long-distance service in the Empire State in January 2000, according to an independent study by the Telecommunications Research and Action Center.
KPMG Consulting, a widely known, independent auditing firm hired by the PUC, conducted an exhaustive review to verify that Verizon's operations support systems (OSS) in Rhode Island are the same as those in Massachusetts where Verizon's application was approved by the FCC in April. Based on that review, KPMG concluded that Verizon's systems in Rhode Island would provide equivalent or superior results. Competitors use Verizon's systems when they switch local customers' service from Verizon.
"There can be absolutely no doubt that we've met or exceeded all the federal requirements," said Tom Tauke, senior vice president of public policy and external affairs. "The same systems and processes were approved in Massachusetts, our performance results are excellent across the board, and competitors are now providing service over their own facilities in virtually the entire state."
In addition to approvals in New York and Massachusetts, earlier this year the company received FCC permission to provide long distance in Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
Today's filing demonstrates in great detail that Verizon has met the 14-point competitive checklist outlined in the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996. That checklist specifies the criteria regional Bell companies must satisfy to demonstrate they have opened their local networks to competitors. Meeting this checklist is a pre-requisite for Verizon to receive FCC approval to offer long-distance service in Rhode Island.
Verizon's performance in delivering the checklist items in Rhode Island is excellent, Cupelo said. For example, the company met the specified intervals for providing interconnection trunks to competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) and providing physical collocation arrangements to CLECs 100 percent of the time. Verizon also scored 99 percent on completing orders from CLECs for leasing combined portions of Verizon's network and for lines used to provide digital subscriber line (DSL) service. Orders for unbundled voice-grade lines and for transferring lines already in service were installed on time 98 percent of the time. In addition, competitors in the state are providing service over their own cable and other facilities in virtually the entire state.
Competitors now can offer service over their own networks to 75 to 95 percent of the residential and business customers in the state. And they are already providing service over more than 120,000 local phone lines. This is roughly double the percentage of lines served by competitors in New York at the time Verizon filed its application for that state.
Verizon Long Distance is the fourth-largest long-distance service provider in the country, serving some 7 million customers in 40 states.
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 128.5 million access line equivalents and 28.7 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with 256,000 employees and approximately $65 billion in annual revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.