SPRINGFIELD, IL — A recent ruling by the Illinois Commerce Commission that exempts five landline telephone companies serving southern and central Illinois from meeting a May 24, federally mandated deadline for local number portability (LNP) "deals a blow to consumers," according to Verizon Wireless, the nation's leading wireless communications provider.
LNP gives consumers the ability to switch from one wireless service provider to another, or from a landline provider to a wireless service provider, and keep their same telephone number. Under a Federal Communications Commission order, LNP was to be available to all landline telephone and wireless customers in the 100 largest markets in America by November 24, 2003, and the remainder of the country by May 24, 2004.
"The ICC decision to give a lengthy extension to these five telephone companies 'landlocks' tens of thousands of southern and central Illinois consumers," said Michael McDermott, regional director of public policy for Verizon Wireless. "In this one ruling, more than 40,000 landline telephone customers are being denied access to local number portability. That simply flies in the face of mandated federal policy and the public interest."
On May 11, the ICC gave an exemption until November 2006 to meet the deadline to: Alhambra-Grantfork Telephone Co., Egyptian Telephone Cooperative Association, Harrisonville Telephone Co., Home Telephone Co., and Madison Telephone Co. Verizon Wireless plans to seek a rehearing of the ICC's ruling to "protect consumers' choice of communications services."
"This decision by the ICC is bad for Illinois consumers, bad for Illinois businesses and bad for our industry," McDermott said. "It will cause confusion in the marketplace when LNP takes effect everywhere else in Illinois on May 24. It will also deny a level playing field for communications providers that have dutifully complied with the FCC mandate." The five landline companies granted extensions by the ICC serve 40,522 customer lines in the southern and central Illinois communities of: Alhambra, Grantfork, Columbia, Dupo, Prarie du Rocher, Red Bud, Renault, Valmeyer, Waterloo, St. Jacob, Highland, Baldwin, Blair, Glenn, Oakdale, Rice, St. Libory, Venedy, Hamel, Livingston, Prairietown, Staunton, and Worden.
"We urge the ICC to reconsider its decision granting these extensions," said McDermott. "The current ruling sets an unfortunate precedent and penalizes consumers based merely upon their geography."
The ICC is currently considering requests for exemptions from 22 other landline telephone companies, serving another 33,000 Illinois customers. McDermott warned that these 22 pending requests for deadline exemptions could "increase the number of disenfranchised customers in Illinois to nearly 73,000." A list of the other companies seeking extensions is attached.
Verizon Wireless met the November 23, 2003 deadline for LNP in the top 100 markets in the United States and is "completely prepared" to enact LNP throughout the remainder of the country on May 24, 2004.
"Our company looks forward to giving customers the broadest choice possible in selecting their communications provider," McDermott said. "We hope the ICC will share our competitive view and enforce the May 24 deadline equally throughout the State of Illinois."
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless is the nation's leading provider of wireless communications. The company has the largest nationwide wireless voice and data network and 39 million customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com. To receive broadcast-quality video footage of Verizon Wireless operations, log onto www.thenewsmarket.com/verizonwireless.