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Verizon to ask for delay in rate cut

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 31, 2003

Verizon Communications goes before the state Public Service Commission on Tuesday, seeking a delay in the commission's order that the phone giant reduce the rates it charges competitors to connect with its local phone network.

The PSC staff has recommended against a delay. But Verizon has a backup plan: It may simply defy the commission that's supposed to regulate it.

Verizon argues that it is entitled to stall while it awaits a state Supreme Court ruling on its challenge to the PSC-ordered rate cut. The company says it has no plans to start negotiating new contracts with new rates for upstart competitors it views as trying to exploit its network on the cheap.

Besides, Verizon argues, the rate cut is also being disputed by some competing companies, such as AT&T and WorldCom (albeit because they think the rates should have been cut more, not less as Verizon contends).

"All parties are saying we need to have these prices reexamined yet again," Verizon spokesman Bob Elek said. "In our interpretation, it's really not clear what the end result is going to be at this point."

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