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Letters to the Editor

AT&T loses; Consumers win

| Friday, March 26, 2004

A recent federal appeals court decision requiring Verizon and other regional telephone companies to lease their local phone lines to competitors is not something dire that "could result in higher rates and reduced service for consumers"("Experts slam local phone ruling," March 13).

Consumers will continue to benefit from telephone competition. The federal court's ruling has no effect on Verizon's most significant competitive threats -- wireless and cable.

The market will continue to drive innovation, better service and lower prices from all providers. But the issue is not about competition or phone rates. It's about profits.

The federal court's ruling could mean lower profits for companies like AT&T that have built their businesses by leasing parts of Verizon's network at unfair, below-cost prices. And the only companies at risk for raising prices are ones, like AT&T, that have relied on these lucrative leasing arrangements to pad their profits -- not Verizon, wireless providers or cable companies.

The court's ruling would force AT&T to compete the way other companies do. It's up to AT&T to decide whether that means lower profits or higher prices for its customers.

Russell R. Kemerer Pittsburgh The writer is assistant vice president of business affairs for Verizon Pennsylvania.

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