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Verizon Midewest seeks to transfer holdings to CenturyTel

December 11, 2001
By: Steve Ahern
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY -Are Columbia, Branson, Wentzville and Hermann ready for another name change to their telephone service provider? If an application is approved by the Missouri Public Service Commmission, the short life of Verizon in the state of Missouri is due to expire. The two companies are requesting permission for the transfer of 78,968 access home or business lines provided currently by Verizon in Columbia and an additional 290,032 throughout the state to be serviced by Century/Tel by the second part of 2002.

In a joint statement issued by Verizon and Century/Tel, the companies said that the application is not harmful to the public interest.

"The proposed transaction is not detrimental to the public interest in that Century/Tel possesses the managerial, engineering and financial expertise necessary to continue to provide the quality of service that Verizon currently provides to its customers in the enumerated exchanges."

Patricia Cameron, spokeswoman for Century/Tel, said that improved efficiency is likely to result due to the proximity that Century/Tel will have to its customers.

"Small towns and smaller ciites throughout the state are our target and we have a better understanding of their needs," Cameron said.

Don Neely, a spokesman for Verizon, said that service consolidation enables support people to get closer to customers.

However, John Van Eschen, manager of telecommuncations at the Missouri Public Service Commission said that more time is needed to review the application, specifically whether it contains anything detrimental to the customers currently receiving service from Verizon.

"Our own staff needs to look critically at whether the proposal is detrimental to the public interest. Does the company have the expertise, the finances for example to effectively serve the public," Van Eschen said.

Rates are expected to remain the same.

"It's still a little early yet to project whether this will take effect," Van Eschen said.

But the companies expect it to take effect in the second part of 2002.

Verizon has been serving Missouri since July of 2000 when General Telephone and GTE merged. Verizon said that if the plan is approved, they will continue to offer wireless service and keep national offices throughout the state.