Verizon Communications Inc. will start selling long-distance service to customers in Virginia next month, after the Federal Communications Commission yesterday granted the nation's largest telecommunications company permission to do so.
Consumers in Virginia will eventually be able to buy a bundle of services, including wireless, local and long-distance telephone service and high-speed Internet access, from a single provider at a packaged discount.
Verizon, which is the dominant local phone provider in 13 states and the District, gets an advantage by offering such packages because most of its competitors are not yet able to offer as many services.
Verizon has been barred from selling long-distance service since 1984, when AT&T Corp.'s monopoly was broken up and the local and long-distance markets were separated. Verizon, formerly known as Bell Atlantic, held a monopoly on the local phone business in its region until 1996, when the Telecommunications Act forced the market open. Providers such as Verizon were offered the chance to sell long-distance service as an incentive to open their networks to competitors.
Verizon received approval to sell long-distance in 11 states, but not yet in Maryland, West Virginia or the District. It plans to apply for FCC approval in those areas by the end of the year.
In New York and Massachusetts, where Verizon has been selling long-distance, it has captured roughly a third of the market within two years, said Daniel E. Zito, an analyst with Legg Mason Inc.
Once Verizon is approved in its entire region, it will be able to market data and Internet services, which are considered long-distance services, said Blair Levin, an analyst with Legg Mason and former FCC chief of staff. That means Verizon will be able to market itself nationally to big business customers, which are the most lucrative, he said.