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Post date: June 18 2001

Spitzer Supports Psc Plan In Effort To Increase Competition For Local Telephone Service

Attorney General Spitzer today filed papers supporting a proposal to spur competition and allow lower phone bills for New Yorkers seeking alternatives to Verizon's local telephone service.

In Spitzer's comments filed today with the New York State Public Service Commission, he urged the PSC to support a plan to dramatically cut the prices Verizon can charge its competitors to connect to Verizon's local telephone network. The proposal will help level the playing field for other companies looking to provide local telephone service to consumers.

The Attorney General said the proposal, recently set out in the form of a Recommended Decision to the PSC by a PSC Administrative Law Judge, would be a significant step forward in providing consumers with the benefits of competition in local telephone service. Spitzer also urged the PSC to adopt further rate cuts that could encourage local competition and lower New York telephone service prices. The Attorney General has long been a vigorous advocate of increasing competition in local phone service, which serves to guarantee competitive pricing and innovative services for consumers.

"By cutting the prices Verizon can charge its competitors for the use of certain wholesale services, the PSC proposal goes a long way toward leveling the local telephone service playing field. It is our hope that increased competition will benefit New Yorkers in the form of lower prices for local telephone service," said Spitzer.

The Recommended Decision urges lowering the prices that Verizon can charge for several "unbundled network elements," or "UNEs." UNEs are equipment and services that Verizon controls based on the company's historical monopoly of local telephone service. The wiring that connects homes and businesses to the telephone network is one kind of UNE. Verizon and other former monopoly local telephone companies are required by the 1996 Telecommunications Act to rent UNE equipment and services to competitors at cost.

In addition to voicing support for most of the judge's decision, the Attorney General recommended that when setting UNE rates the PSC should recognize that Verizon can lower its costs in the current buyer's market for telecommunications equipment and that Verizon should not be allowed to charge others for correcting deficiencies in Verizon's own equipment records.