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Post date: February 15 2002

Attorney General Files Comments On Verizon Rate Plan Settlement

The Attorney General filed comments today on the settlement proposal filed last week with the Public Service Commission on the regulatory treatment of Verizon over the next two years. The Joint Proposal Concerning Verizon Incentive Plan for New York ("VIP") was agreed to by PSC staff, Verizon, and numerous competitive local providers of telecommunications services in negotiations to which the Attorney General was a party. The Attorney General made the following statement regarding the comments:

The VIP has some very significant positive elements to it. In particular, it will substantially lower the rates Verizon can charge its local competitors for access to the Verizon equipment they need to connect with the end use customer. I wholeheartedly support these provisions, which are critically important if local competition is ever going to take off in New York, especially for residential and small-business customers.

The settlement also has some provisions that raise concern. It permits Verizon to raise retail rates over the next two years. It eases up on service quality measurements that have been in place for seven years, and which are designed to ensure that Verizon met and maintained a high level of service quality. Good service quality is critically important for all customers, whether they choose Verizon or another provider, for Verizon is responsible in many instances to provide service by virtue of its ownership of the so-called "last mile," even if the customer has chosen a competitive provider.

I will continue to participate vigorously in the process which led to this settlement proposal and will continue to advocate for policies that promote accelerated local competition as well as retail ratepayer protections.