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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 09, 2005
Public Counsel Calls for Conditions in Verizon-MCI Merger to Ensure Customers Aren’t Harmed


SEATTLE – The Washington State Attorney General’s Office today filed expert testimony with the state Utilities and Transportation Commission that gives consent to a proposed merger of Verizon Communications and MCI – but only if conditions are placed on the companies to help ensure consumers are not adversely affected.

“Verizon announced last winter that it is purchasing MCI, one of its primary competitors, and the state needs to ensure that Washington residents are not harmed by the merger,” Public Counsel Section Chief Simon ffitch said.

“Verizon must extend the availability of high-speed Internet service and ensure that customers in our state receive a fair share of the very significant financial benefits that the merging companies have projected,” ffitch continued.

The Attorney General’s Office Public Counsel Section asked that Verizon and MCI be required to make a number of commitments, including:

• Give adequate notice to affected MCI customers of the merger and their rights to choose a new carrier.
• Meet service quality performance standards and report to customers annually on their performance.
• Increase the availability of broadband service.
• Share the Washington portion of the $7 billion financial savings that are projected nationally with Washington ratepayers. Specifically, Verizon should reduce the level of a proposed rate increase scheduled for 2007.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission will hold hearings on the case next month in Olympia and is expected to issue a decision by the end of the year.

The merger is also being reviewed by the Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and state regulatory commissions around the country including California and New York.

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For more information contact:
Kristin Alexander, Public Information Officer, (206) 464-6432
Simon ffitch, Public Counsel section Chief, (206) 389-2055

 

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