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Verizon Has Refused To Pay e.spire Despite Clear Directive of Maryland Commission

HERNDON, VA, NOVEMBER 20, 2001 . e.spire Communications, Inc. (OTC Pinksheets: ESPIQ) announced that it has filed two complaints against Verizon charging that it has failed to pay millions of dollars of bills in violation of orders issued by the Maryland Public Service Commission and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

The first complaint, before the Maryland Commission, points to Verizon. s flouting of a June order of the Commission requiring Verizon to continue to pay reciprocal compensation bills in Maryland in the wake of a recent order of the Federal Communications Commission. The Maryland Commission has found that Verizon must continue to pay such bills until it signs new amendments to its interconnection agreements. Verizon and e.spire are still negotiating an amendment, but Verizon continues to withhold payment, in defiance of the Commission. s express orders.

The Commission has already ordered Verizon to pay Core Communications and all other competitors in Maryland. WorldCom, Inc. has also filed a complaint, asking the Commission to levy $25,000 per day in penalties for Verizon. s failure to pay similar WorldCom bills. e.spire has asked the Commission to order swift and severe sanctions, including delaying Verizon. s Maryland application to reenter the long distance market, until it can demonstrate 18 consecutive months of abiding by the Commission. s local competition orders.

. Verizon just doesn. t get it. It thinks e.spire should make payments to Verizon, but Verizon is above the law and doesn. t have to pay for services rendered by e.spire,. said James C. Falvey, e.spire Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs. . It seems to think it can ignore the Maryland Commission. What Verizon is really trying to do is force all competitors out of the market so it can continue to run its monopoly..

e.spire also filed a complaint in Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, charging Verizon with failure to pay a total of $2.6 million in overdue payments to e.spire. Verizon has claimed that e.spire owes money to Verizon, but an internal e.spire audit determined that Verizon had lost and misplaced checks made by e.spire, and returned checks to e.spire without explanation. The e.spire audit determined that e.spire payments were in fact current.

. Verizon. s billing department is in disarray, and Verizon is trying to place blame for its own confusion on e.spire,. said Christopher J. Resavy, e.spire Chief Operating Officer. "It's just another example that shows that monopolist phone companies are afraid of competition and are trying to keep new entrants out of the telecom market. Our message is simple: pay your bills to e.spire, or answer to the court..

e.spire has requested an expedited hearing by the Maryland Commission.

e.spire Communications, Inc. is a leading integrated communications provider, offering traditional local and long distance, dedicated Internet access, and advanced data solutions, including ATM and frame relay. e.spire also provides Web hosting, dedicated server, and colocation services through its Internet subsidiary, CyberGate, Inc., and its subsidiary ValueWeb. e.spire. s subsidiary, ACSI Network Technologies, Inc., provides third parties, including other communications concerns, municipalities, and corporations, with turnkey fiber-optic design, construction, and project management expertise. More information about e.spire is available at e.spire. s Web site,

The statements contained in this release that are not historical facts are . forward-looking statements. (as such term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995). Certain statements regarding expected financial results and other planned events are forward-looking statements, subject to uncertainties and risks, including, but not limited to, the demand for e.spire. s services and the ability of the Company to successfully implement its strategies, each of which may be impacted, among other things, by economic, competitive or regulatory conditions. These and other applicable risks are summarized under the caption . Risk Factors. in the Company's Form 10-K Annual Report for its fiscal year ended December 31, 2000 and are updated periodically through the filing of reports and registration statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission.