- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 13, 2002

Verizon Communications Inc. asked D.C. regulators yesterday for approval to market long-distance service in the city.

Verizon, spawned by the breakup of AT&T Corp., said it meets the requirements set by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and should be allowed by the D.C. Public Service Commission and the Federal Communications Commission to compete for long-distance customers.

The company must prove that its telecommunications networks are open to competitors, such as AT&T and WorldCom Inc., that want to market local-calling service.

"The fact of the matter is that telecommunications competition in the District is robust," said Marie C. Johns, president of Verizon's District operations.

If District officials OK the company's request, it must seek FCC approval.

Verizon had 887,590 local-calling customers in June 2001, according to the latest FCC report available on local-calling competition.

Verizon competitors had 124,630 customers, or 12 percent of the market. In its filing with the District's Public Service Commission, Verizon officials said its competitors have 199,000 local-calling customers.

"Relative to other states, that's pretty good," said Patrick Brogan, assistant director of research at Precursor Group, a telecommunications research firm in the District.

Verizon would compete with long-distance giants AT&T, WorldCom Inc. through its MCI subsidiary and Sprint Corp.

It is not clear if rates will fall if Verizon begins offering long distance, said Mark Cooper, president of the Consumer Federation of America. Verizon, based in New York, has 8.2 million long-distance customers in 44 states. Since December 1999, the FCC has given it approval to market long-distance service in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine and New Jersey.

"It has worked extremely well in New York. Most of the markets have not worked as well as that. It can work; prices can fall. It's just a question of whether the conditions are right," Mr. Cooper said.

Verizon hopes to have approval by the end of March.

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