The national telecom company that planned to block Alaskans from recharging
their cheap MCI prepaid phone cards has abandoned the plan.
A few weeks ago, Verizon Communications Inc. quietly dropped the proposal, which
enraged Alaskans who use the MCI cards and prompted state regulators to file a
letter of opposition with the Federal Communications Commission.
Verizon said the change would go into effect last September, but it never
happened. Thats because the FCC never held a hearing or ruled on Verizons
Verizon officials confirmed this week that they dropped the proposal and will
not pursue it further with the FCC.
"Were not saying much beyond that, other than it was a business decision," said
Jon Davies, a spokesman for Verizon Communications Inc.
The company also has dropped an erroneous recording that Alaska callers had to
listen to since last summer, whenever they used the card. The message said
customers in Alaska would not be able to recharge the cards, starting on Sept.
Anchorage resident Russ Baker, a retired fighter pilot, said he recently
bombarded Verizon officials with emails, asking them to pull the lengthy
He said hes pleased that Verizon scratched the recording.
"It cost us time to listen to it," he said.
The prepaid cards were available at Costco stores in Alaska until 2006, when
Verizon, the parent company of MCI, stopped offering them for sale here.
Although current owners can continue to buy minutes, new cards will not be sold
Many Alaskans consider the prepaid cards a great deal: 3 cents per minute for
longdistance phone calls.
Last July, Verizon announced that it would disallow cardholders from adding new
minutes if they used a credit card with an Alaska billing address or tried to
add minutes from an Alaska phone.
At the time, Verizon said the prepaid cards were unprofitable in Alaska,
especially because of the fees it has to pay to local phone companies to use
their phone lines.
But state regulators complained to the FCC that Verizons plan potentially
violated state and federal laws that protect consumers.
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