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Verizon overstated customers by 1.5 million

/ Source: The Associated Press

Verizon Communications Corp. said Thursday it had overstated the number of its long-distance subscribers by 9 percent in its latest quarterly filing.

The company said in a new filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it over-reported the subscribers by 1.5 million. The correct number for the end of March should have been 16 million, not 17.5 million, the company said.

Verizon said it found the error as part of an internal review and blamed the overstatement on "an internal system database issue." It said the error would not affect its revenue and would be corrected in its next quarterly report.

The SEC has asked more than 20 telecom companies, including Verizon, AT&T Corp., SBC Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. for information about how they count their subscribers, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The request is an apparent effort to determine whether any of the companies have taken improper steps to show growth, the paper said.

In other news Thursday, Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone, agreed to buy Qwest Communications International Inc.'s wireless licenses and other assets in 14 states for about $418 million in cash.

The deal, which covers Qwest's PCS licenses and network assets but not customers, will not affect new or existing Qwest wireless subscribers. Qwest will continue to offer wireless service under the Qwest brand through its wholesale agreement with Sprint PCS Corp.