Verizon wins long-distance ruling
The Federal Communications Commission announced that it voted to approve Verizon’s application to provide in-region, inter-LATA service in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.
The commissioners insisted that the approval of Verizon’s multi-state application promised to benefit consumers “by making increased competition in all markets for telecommunications services possible.”
Verizon indicated in its application that competing carriers serve roughly 533,000 lines in Maryland, 193,000 lines in Washington, D.C., and 32,000 lines in West Virginia.
“At long last, consumers and businesses in every market we serve have another option for long-distance voice and data connectivity to just about anywhere,” Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg said.
Verizon will launch its long-distance calling plans in Maryland, West Virginia and the District of Columbia in the coming weeks.
“Verizon will offer a menu of long-distance plans and packages that provide customers with great value,” said Maura Breen, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Verizon’s Retail Markets unit. “We offer our customers the ease and convenience of having one supplier, one bill and easy-to-understand service packages designed to meet their unique calling needs.”
When Verizon launches long-distance in the last three jurisdictions, the company will serve 49 states and the District of Columbia.
At least one commissioner, however, expressed guarded reservations regarding the decision.
“Now that Verizon has the authority to provide long-distance services nationwide, the real challenge begins,” Commissioner Michael J. Copps explained. “The commission looks closely at a Bell company’s performance to ensure compliance with the statute at the time we consider a Section 271 application.
“We do not, however, always accord the same vigilance towards ensuring continued compliance,” Copps added. “We must institute better follow-up on what happens following a successful application. Competition is not the result of some frantic one-time dash to checklist approval. It is a process over time. It is about — or should be about – creating and then sustaining the reality of competition. Our present data on whether competition is taking hold is sketchy and non-integrated. We need better data to evaluate whether and how approved carriers are complying with their obligations after grant of the application, as Congress required.”
With the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Congress envisioned fundamental, pro-competitive changes in the telecommunications markets by making a BOC’s entry into the long-distance market subject to it first opening its local service market to competition. A BOC satisfies this contingency by demonstrating compliance with section 271 of the 1996 Act.
After a BOC files a section 271 long distance application with the FCC, the FCC has 90 days to determine whether a BOC has taken the statutorily required steps to open its local telecommunications markets to competition, including compliance with the 1996 Act’s 14-point “competitive checklist” in section 271.
Since the passage of the 1996 Act, the FCC has denied five long-distance applications and now has approved applications to provide in-region, long distance service in 37 states and the District of Columbia.
Additionally, applications for 16 states have been withdrawn.
There are section 271 applications for five states — SBC’s Nevada application, Qwest’s multi-state application for New Mexico, Oregon, and South Dakota, and SBC’s application for Michigan — pending before the commission.
Pending 271 applications
Under Section 271 of the Communications Act of 1934, the Bell Operating Companies must file applications with the FCC on a state-by-state basis in order to provide in-region inter-LATA services. The following is a list of states that have filed with the FCC.