NEW YORK and IRVING, Texas — Approval received today from the Federal Communications Commission paves the way for Bell Atlantic and GTE to move forward with closing their merger by the end of June and create Verizon Communications, the number-one provider of wireline and wireless communications in the United States.
"Our merger will be a transforming event for both of our companies," said Charles R. Lee, chairman and chief executive officer of GTE and designated chairman and co-CEO of Verizon. "It will enable us to offer customers the richest array of high-growth communications services over the most extensive national footprint and in the world's most attractive markets."
"The scale, scope and market reach of Verizon will position us to capitalize on the 'new economy' growth trends that are shaping communications in the U.S. and around the world," said Ivan Seidenberg, chairman and chief executive officer of Bell Atlantic and designated president and co-CEO of Verizon. "Our ability to deliver a full plate of voice, data, Internet and wireless services to all our customers will make Verizon the next great brand in communications."
In domestic telecommunications services, Verizon will unite GTE's primarily suburban and rural operations throughout the United States with Bell Atlantic's operations in 13 Eastern states and the District of Columbia to form the nation's number-one provider of wireline communications services. With more than 63 million access lines and the equivalent of 32 million additional access lines in high-speed data circuits, Verizon's wireline operations will reach one-third of all United States households and serve two-thirds of the top 100 markets, including nine of the top 10.
Verizon Wireless — formed in April through a joint venture combining the U.S. wireless assets of Bell Atlantic and Vodafone AirTouch, and to be strengthened by the addition of GTE's wireless assets -- is the nation's largest wireless company by far, serving some 25 million wireless and nearly 4 million paging customers. Its nationwide footprint will cover over 90 percent of the U.S. population and 96 of the top 100 U.S. wireless markets, with 232 million net POPs.
Verizon also will be a leader in high-growth data markets, with digital networks that already include more fiber optics and more "first mile" assets than any other communications company. These networks, as they continue to transform, will give Verizon the number-one distribution platform for electronic commerce and delivery of a comprehensive suite of Internet-Age services, including high-speed Internet access powered by digital subscriber lines.
Verizon also will hold a 9.5 percent stake in Genuity, a tier-one Internet backbone provider with a state-of-the-art global fiber optic network spanning more than 100 U.S. metropolitan areas, and will have the option to acquire a larger interest in the future. Verizon will be able to enter into joint marketing agreements with Genuity where Verizon has approval to offer long distance.
"Our long-term relationship with Genuity is important, because the business market in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic is the best in the country. Verizon will be positioned to bring end-to-end connectivity and networked business solutions to national and global customers," said Lee.
Verizon's leading position in the United States will give it a significant advantage in providing services to global businesses and consumers. The company's investments and operations in Europe, Asia and the Pacific, Canada and Latin America will have a market value estimated at $25 billion to $30 billion, and will provide it with a solid platform to create the global capabilities required by customers in the 21st century.
"Our scale and scope, and our preeminence in U.S. markets, will make us the premier partner for anyone seeking to provide global services," said Seidenberg.
Verizon and its employees will remain a strong, positive force in the communities in which they live and work, serving millions of volunteer hours annually. The Verizon Foundation, to be formed through the combination of the separate Bell Atlantic and GTE Foundations, anticipates contributing more than $70 million in 2000, making it one of the top 10 largest corporate foundations in the United States.
"Our 260,000-plus employees will benefit from new opportunities created by being part of a world-class company in the fastest-growing industry of the 21st century," said Lee. "Our investment in local communities will improve the quality of life and will spur economic development across all our markets."
In a separate press release today, Bell Atlantic and GTE praised the FCC's approval of the companies' merger. This release — along with other information about the merger, including domestic and international maps of the new company — can be found on the Internet web sites www.ba.com and www.gte.com.
Bell Atlantic (www.bellatlantic.com) is at the forefront of the new communications and information industry. With more than 44 million telephone access lines and more than 20 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations and investments in 23 countries.
With 1999 revenue of more than $25 billion, GTE (www.gte.com) is a leading telecommunications provider with one of the industry's broadest arrays of products and services. In the United States, GTE provides local service in 28 states and wireless service in 18 states, as well as nationwide long-distance, directory, and internetworking services ranging from dial-up Internet access for residential and small-business consumers to Web-based applications for Fortune 500 companies. Outside the United States, the company serves customers on five continents.