NEWARK, N.J. - Verizon Long Distance today began offering innovative, straightforward long-distance calling plans that bring the true benefits of competition - choice and value - to New Jersey consumers and businesses.
Company executives noted that New Jersey is the eighth state in the former Bell Atlantic service area to be declared a fully competitive telecommunications market, proof that Verizon is a national leader in realizing the goals of Congress to open both local and long-distance markets to other telecom companies.
"With long-distance service available on three-quarters of the lines served by the former Bell Atlantic and in 36 former GTE states, we are passing a milestone in the history of our industry," said Bruce Gordon, group president-retail markets for Verizon. "Congress envisioned a world in which a number of companies would compete for the whole spectrum of communications services, but today, only one company has truly positioned itself to offer those services nationwide...Verizon."
Verizon Long Distance serves more than 8.2 million customers in 44 states, and customers across the country can now rely on the Verizon network to complete calls from Pittsburgh to Portland, Maine in Bell Atlantic's former service area.
"I am a marketer and I believe in markets," Gordon said. "It's a thrill to be in this one, full bore, and it's a thrill to be able to compete, flat out."
On June 24, Verizon received approval from the Federal Communications Commission to offer long-distance service in New Jersey, allowing the company to jointly market local and long-distance services in the state.
"Starting today we are bringing new choices and savings to long-distance services in New Jersey," said Dennis Bone, president of Verizon-New Jersey. "New Jersey customers will benefit from increased competition for both long-distance and local phone services."
With Verizon now offering long-distance in other Northeast states, customers get greater choice in long-distance and local calling plans. According to research by several independent watchdog groups, consumers in the Northeast have saved as much as $1.8 billion annually on their telephone bills as the result of increased local and long distance competition.
"We're offering New Jersey residents and businesses long-distance calling plans that are innovative and easy to understand," said Maura Breen vice president - consumer marketing for Verizon. "Verizon can now provide all calling services -- local, regional toll, Internet access and long-distance, all on a single bill. Verizon makes it easy with one provider, one bill and one call for customer service."
"Customers told us they want plans that meet their unique needs at home and at work, and Verizon's long-distance plans do just that. We offer customized calling plans tailored to fit our customers' lifestyles and calling preferences," Breen said.
Verizon's plans, available in 44 states including New Jersey, have proven popular with consumers and businesses alike. Verizon offers an assortment of long-distance plans designed for domestic and international calling as well as toll-free plans and calling cards for both consumers and businesses.
Verizon's residential long-distance service earned top marks in "overall satisfaction" on the Yankee Group's annual Technologically Advanced Family Survey, ahead of "big three" competitors AT&T, MCI/WorldCom and Sprint. Of customers queried, 76 percent gave Verizon's service "excellent or above average," better than Sprint, AT&T or MCI/WorldCom. According to the Yankee Group, a Boston-based technology research and consulting company, Verizon's "strong customer acquisition strategies" are a key factor in bolstering the company's customer rating.
Some plans enable customers to purchase long-distance service in advance or to bundle long-distance with packages of Verizon products and services. For instance, Verizon New Jersey customers who subscribe to Local Package Premium can add long-distance service at eight cents a minute for both state-to-state and in-state calls. The Local Package is $26.95 per month and includes the Timelesssm long-distance plan, the local line, unlimited local calling and four or more optional services like Call Waiting and Caller ID.
"Verizon offers the most value for consumers not subscribing to a long-distance plan from their current long-distance company," said Breen. "These customers may pay as much as 25 cents a minute for calls. Verizon's customers who subscribe to one of our plans pay as little as 8 cents a minute for state-to-state and in state New Jersey long-distance calls."
Verizon also is offering long-distance voice and data services designed to meet the requirements of small, medium-size and large businesses, government agencies and education customers in New Jersey -- from the lowest to highest-volume long-distance callers.
Verizon's plans offer small and medium-size businesses the simplicity of bundled packages of local and long-distance services, one bill and one place to call for their local, long-distance and other communications needs.
The company offers customized calling plans for medium-size to large businesses including switched and special access. Customized plans for enterprise customers can include a comprehensive suite of data transport products, including private line (at transmission speeds of DS-0 through OC-48), asynchronous transfer mode (ATM at transmission speeds of DS-1 through OC-12) and frame-relay service.
Residential customers and small and medium-size businesses can sign up for Verizon long-distance service through the company's Web site at www.verizonld.com or by calling their local Verizon business office. Enterprise customers can contact their account manager or visit the Verizon Enterprise Solutions Group Web site at www.verizon.com/enterprisesolutions.
On March 19, just a day before the FCC was required to act on Verizon's long-distance request for New Jersey, the company withdrew the initial application when it became clear that procedural concerns over some pricing issues could not be resolved before the deadline. Verizon resubmitted the New Jersey application to the FCC on March 26.
The company is proceeding with additional federal applications for permission to offer long distance in Delaware and New Hampshire. Later this year, Verizon plans to file for approval for the remaining jurisdictions in the mid-Atlantic region formerly served by Bell Atlantic, including Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. In addition to New Jersey, Verizon previously has won federal approval to offer long-distance in the seven other former Bell Atlantic states -- New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island , Vermont and Maine.
Verizon Long Distance launched its innovative New Jersey plans today in a ceremony at the company's state headquarters in Newark. Joining Bone and Breen and other Verizon employees in the celebration were Chris Thorpe and Tony Benschoof, members of the USA Luge team and 2002 Olympians. Verizon has been a founding sponsor of the USA Luge team since 1985.
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 133.8 million access line equivalents and approximately 29.6 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. With more than $67 billion in annual revenues and nearly 248,000 employees, 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.