| State of New Jersey
Department Of The Public Advocate
240 West State St.
P.O. Box 851
Trenton, NJ 08625-0851
Phone: (609) 826-5090 Fax: (609) 984-4747
|JON S. CORZINE
For Immediate Release:
January 24, 2006
|RONALD K. CHEN
For Further Information
N.J. Ratepayer Advocate Announces Settlement Reached for Consumers in United Telephone Co. Of New Jersey’s Spin-off from Sprint/Nextel
Newark, N.J.—New Jersey Ratepayer Advocate Seema M. Singh today announced a settlement agreement has been reached among the Ratepayer Advocate, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) staff, United Telephone Company of New Jersey (United New Jersey) and LTD Holding Company regarding approval of a change in United New Jersey’s ownership and control following the proposed spin-off from Sprint/Nextel. The settlement includes provisions for positive benefits for New Jersey ratepayers.
The change in United New Jersey’s control is the result of the union of Sprint and Nextel and the separation of the wire-line companies such as United New Jersey from Sprint/Nextel. United New Jersey serves customers in New Jersey’s Hunterdon, Warren and Sussex counties.
“The positive benefits to ratepayers that result from this agreement help assure that United New Jersey will continue to provide safe and adequate service at just and reasonable rates after its spin-off from Sprint/Nextel,” said Singh.
In August of 2005, United New Jersey and LTD Holding Company filed a petition asking the BPU to approve the transfer of ownership and control of United New Jersey to LTD. The settlement was filed with the BPU, which will vote on approval of the ownership change at a future BPU meeting.
The Ratepayer Advocate had filed testimony on the petition asking the BPU to evaluate the impact of the transfer of control on competition, rates, service and employees.
The Ratepayer Advocate entered into the settlement agreement on the basis that approval of the petition should be granted only if certain conditions were met by United New Jersey.
The Ratepayer Advocate’s conditions included:
• Imposition of a rate freeze on regulated services until Jan. 1, 2009.
• No increase in intra-LATA (Local Access Transport Area) tolls until January 2, 2007.
• A freeze on the reclassification of regulated services until July 2007 (For example, regulated services could be prevented from being reclassified as competitive and moved out of the jurisdiction of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities).
• Expansion of Lifeline programs (programs that offer a reduced rate on residential telephone service based on income-eligibility) for the economically disadvantaged, including an additional $3.50 monthly credit provided by United New Jersey’s Lifeline for all existing and future United New Jersey Lifeline customers.
• Establishment of service discounts for schools and libraries.
• Reporting of BPU required service quality metrics.
• Additional deployment of broadband/DSL service.
The Division of the Ratepayer Advocate is an independent state agency that represents the interests of consumers of electric, natural gas, water/sewer and telecommunications and cable TV service. It serves as an active participant in every proceeding whenever New Jersey companies seek changes in rates or services. The Ratepayer Advocate also gives consumers a voice in setting long-range energy, water, and telecommunications policy that will affect the delivery of services well into the future. Additional information on this and other matters can be found at the Division of Ratepayer Advocate’s website at http://www.rpa.state.nj.us