Newsday (New York)
April 14, 2004 Wednesday
NASSAU AND SUFFOLK EDITION
From Lexis Nexis
Verizon Communications Inc. said yesterday it is adding monthly fees to its high-speed Internet-service bills to cover costs of a federal program that brings phone service to remote areas.
Verizon says it will add $2 to $3 in May or June to bills for so-called digital subscriber line service, or DSL, which provides Web access at faster speeds than regular connections.
The move comes in the wake of an advertising campaign that needled Cablevision for the speed at which it raised its rates on high-speed data lines.
Verizon and other phone-service providers are required to contribute to the government's Universal Service Fund, which provides telecommunications service in poor or rural areas and in schools and libraries. The companies say the program is unfair because cable operators aren't forced to contribute.
"We had hoped that this fee Verizon pays to the USF would go away, but it hasn't," the company said in the statement. The Federal Communications Commission "has not acted" on Verizon's request that the fees "should not apply to DSL providers," the company said.
Verizon, which charges $29.95 to $34.95 a month for the Web service, said in an e-mailed statement that it has 2.5 million DSL subscribers. At the end of 2003, the company had 2.3 million high-speed Internet customers, making it the second-biggest DSL provider after San Antonio-based SBC.