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NY CALL TO ACTION: Tell Regulators Your Thoughts About Verizon’s Future Landline Plans

nys pscNew York State residents have until July 2 to share their views about a proposal by Verizon Communications that would allow the company to drop landline service in rural upstate New York and other locations and replace it with a wireless substitute — Voice Link, as its sole service offering.

Stop the Cap! has covered the issue of rural landline service extensively since 2008. In the past few years, while CenturyLink, Windstream, FairPoint, and Frontier have developed business plans to sell lucrative landline telephone and broadband service in rural areas, AT&T and Verizon have proposed abandoning their landline networks in certain areas in favor of wireless.

Verizon has sought to stop offering rural landline service in areas where it feels no longer economically justified providing it. It ultimately means dismantling communications infrastructure that has provided reliable voice telephone service for more than 100 years.

Verizon-logoVoice Link is first being introduced as Verizon’s “sole service” for beleaguered residents living on the western half of Fire Island, which was devastated by last fall’s Hurricane Sandy. Verizon does not want to foot the bill to rebuild and repair the damaged copper wire infrastructure and does not believe installing its fiber optic network FiOS is economically justified either. That leaves residents with one option for basic phone service: Voice Link.

Unfortunately, many of the residents now encountering Voice Link have told the Public Service Commission it has proven unreliable or unsatisfactory and represents a downgrade from the landline service they used to have. (Stop the Cap! has repeatedly offered to test Voice Link’s workability and sound quality ourselves, but Verizon has not taken us up on that offer.)

The company does admit Voice Link is incompatible with basic data services, which means Verizon customers using Voice Link will lose DSL and dial-up Internet access. It also does not work with fax machines, home alarms, and medical monitoring services. Verizon has promised to address these issues in the future, but has offered no timeline or guarantees. Instead, it suggests customers consider purchasing added-cost services from Verizon Wireless, which could cost some residents hundreds of dollars a month for phone and broadband service.

verizon repairStop the Cap! believes Voice Link should be offered only as an optional service for customers who wish to use it. In its current form, it is unsuitable, unproven, and insufficient to serve as Verizon’s sole offering, particularly when the company is the carrier of last resort for many rural residents, as well as those on Fire Island.

At the very least, Verizon must be compelled to offer an equal or better level of service, not diminish it. That means better voice quality, rock solid cell coverage, an equivalently priced, unlimited wireless broadband service option for DSL customers, and compatibility with the data services that are now supported over the plain old telephone network.

The Commission should also explore the true costs of repairing and/or replacing wired infrastructure before allowing the company to dismantle it. Once the wired infrastructure is removed, the costs to provision rural New York with fast, reliable, wired broadband service in the future will become prohibitive. Wireless service is no panacea for rural New York, where coverage issues abound, especially in the mountainous areas upstate and across the rolling hills of the Southern Tier. Verizon’s lawyers admitted as much when they wrote the terms and conditions governing Voice Link and other wireless services, walking away from significant liability if calls to 911 go unconnected:

“In the absence of gross negligence or willful misconduct by Verizon, our liability to you, to anyone dialing 911 using the Service, or to any other person or party, for any loss or damage arising from any acts, errors, interruptions, omissions, delays, defects, or failures of 911 services or emergency personnel, whether caused by our negligence or otherwise, shall not exceed the amount of our charges for such Services during the affected period of time. This limitation of liability is in addition to any other limitations contained in this Agreement.”

In other words, Verizon’s only responsibility is to credit your account for the time you could not reach 911 or your call summoning help was dropped. You will see that credit reflected on a future bill, assuming you are still among the living when the emergency is over.

We strongly urge our fellow New Yorkers to share their personal views about Voice Link as a landline substitute with the PSC. This issue is important not only to Fire Island but to the rest of rural upstate New York as well, particularly pertaining to whether customers will have broadband service or not. Verizon management has clearly stated their agenda is to retire copper landline service and replace it with wireless in non-FiOS areas deemed too costly or unprofitable to keep up or upgrade.

Sharing your views is fast and easy and can be done in several ways. Be sure to reference “Matter/Case: 13-00986/13-C-0197” in your comments and include your contact information. All submissions will become publicly viewable on the Commission’s website under the “Public Comments” tab. You can find submissions from Stop the Cap! there as well.

Write (U.S. Mail):

Hon. Jeffrey C. Cohen, Acting Secretary
New York State Public Service Commission
Three Empire State Plaza
Albany, New York 12223-1350

E-Mail:

[email protected]

Online Comments:

You can post comments directly to the Commission’s Document and Matter Management System (DMM). Choose the “Post Comments” link on the upper-right of your screen. An online submission form will appear asking for your contact information. You can include your comments in the provided text box on that form or attach a .PDF, .DOC, or .TXT file.

Currently there are 6 comments on this Article:

  1. James Cieloha says:

    Every Verizon customers not happy with having to only cope with Voice Link as the only way to get phone service can read my comment about this situation:

    Every Verizon customer in New York should be ashamed of Verizon for choosing to abandoned wireline service in favor of the Voice Link wireless serivce New York very severely.

    This is an excuse for Lowell McAdam and Fran Shammo with Verizon wanting to try to be way too big being like the Wal-Mart’s, the Marlboro’s, the Joe Camel’s, the Paramount Pictures with the movie theater chain of the 1940’s, the Morris Levy’s when he was part of Roulette Records, the Clive Davis’s when he was at Columbia Records in the 1970′s, the Neil Bogart’s of Casablanca Records fame of the 1970′s disco era, the Trinity Broadcasting Network’s, the David Smith (one of the Smith brothers from Sinclair Broadcast Group), the Perry Sock and the Nexstar Broadcasting Group, the Harry Pappas as part of the Pappas Telecasting Companies, the Bernard Madoff’s, the Enron’s, the Worldcom’s, the Adelphia’s, the Tyco’s, the Martha Stewart’s, the Jill Kelley’s, the Orie sister’s, and the Jesse Jackson Jr’s, of the 2000′s by letting greed get out of control so all of the head employees and bosses at Verizon to be able to enjoy carefree lavishly spending to support carefree lavishly lifestyles with luxurious homes, luxurious jets, luxurious cars, luxurious furs, luxurious jewelry, join luxurious clubs, go to luxurious hotels, go to luxurious casinos to do gambling, go to horse races, throw luxurious parties, and have other luxurious items just to make them very happy then trying and willingness to improve the quality of all of their employees and making the customers very happy as well. I hope and I wish that Verizon goes out of business for their unwillingness to care for their customers and their employees. This is an excuse for Verizon trying to bribe like the General Tire/RKO General of the 1960′s and 1970′s by not being very honest of not only the customers and also on themselves.

    I hope and I wish that the FCC would allow all the television and telephone providers with internet broadband that has never ever impose usage caps to the internet broadband customers be allowed to purchase and acquired customers from Verizon and are being required to make a real big concession that they would promised not to have any difficulties with all the internet broadband providers competitors and their customers by not imposing usage caps and meters and raising prices for them to put them out of business sooner and without any interference for 12 straight whole years.

    This is an excuse for Lowell McAdam and Fran Shammo with Verizon wanting to be too big being way too busy trying to act like the Baauer’s, the PSY’s, the Carly Rae Jepsen’s, the Nicole Westbrook’s, the Rebecca Black’s, the Double Take’s, and the Guns N Roses Axl Rose as well as trying to be the Conrad Murray’s, the Jerry Sandusky’s as the assaulters, the Jodi Arias’s, the Casey Anthony’s, the Charles Starkweather’s, the Charles Manson’s, the Lyle and Erik Menendez’s, the O. J. Simpson’s, the Scott Peterson’s, and the Drew Peterson’s as the greedy murderers, the Amanda Bynes’s and the Lindsay Lohan’s as the drunk and the drug abusers, the Rodney Dangerfield’s, the John Belushi’s, and the Chris Farley’s as the comedians, the Gordon Gekko’s, the Victoria Grayson’s, the Victor Newman’s/the Jack Abbott’s, the J. R. Ewing’s/the Cliff Barnes’s, the Charles Montgomery Burn’s/the Mayor Quimby’s, the Homer and Bart Simpson’s, the Peter Griffin’s, the Mickey Mouse’s/the Minnie Mouse’s, the Bugs Bunny’s/the Daffy Duck’s/the Porky Pig’s, the Garfield cat’s, the Cookie Monster’s, the Miss Piggy’s, and the Pillsbury Doughboy’s, of the television, telephone and internet broadband industry of preferring to make it’s customers be forced to have Voice Link wireless service in New York.

    This is an excuse for Lowell McAdam and Fran Shammo with Verizon trying to turn into the 1919 Chicago White Sox’s baseball team and the Southern Methodist University football team of the 1980′s to force all the customers to accept whether or not the customers will be willing to deal with Verizon customer service and making them deal with just having Voice Link wireless service in New York by the use of extortion. I urge all the Verizon customers in New York to boycott Lowell McAdam and Fran Shammo with Verizon right now for making all the customers suffer from having to deal with being forced to be stuck with having Voice Link wireless service in New York in a big huge ugly game of baw baw baw baw baw baw baw baw baw baw baw baw chicken in the future of the telephone industry.

    Wireline phone and internet is useful for web users to look at for news and weather reports as well as for important emergencies. I feel that all of the fat cat politicians and the fat cat phone and internet providers want to see wireline service to go away and force all of the wireline customers to pay up a lot more money for the right to keep phone and internet service so all of the fat cat politicians and the fat phone and internet providers can have carefree lavish spending to fully support their endless greedy lavish lifestyles for their own political gain by way of block booking and extortion is so very shameful and so very disgraceful in my own personal opinion and theory. I feel that all of the fat cat phone and internet providers and the fat cat politicians have never learned from various scandals happening in the past. Have those fat cat phone and internet providers and fat cat politicians learned from the Paramount Pictures practice of block booking with theatrical theatres of the 1940’s, No, the General Tire/RKO General broadcasting license scandal of the 1960’s and the 1970’s, No, the Southern Methodist University football team scandal of the 1980’s, No. These are examples of what I feel that all of the fat cat phone and internet providers and the fat cat politicians are trying to do to attack wireline phone and internet service in the United States Of America in a few years into the future.

    I’m commented in response to all Verizon customers who are very sick and tired of all the ways Lowell McAdam and Fran Shammo with Verizon to make sure that communities don’t build their own broadband networks and have fears to see Verizon internet service deteriorate very much rapidly in a heartbeat in New York.

    I gracefully would support all community internet broadband providers and would want all of them to be able to be allowed to provide the fastest internet speeds of up to 1GB very fairly by the communities being allowed to build their own fiber optics cable lines without interference from Lowell McAdam and Fran Shammo with Verizon with the fact that Verizon is already providing very limited internet broadband service at way less broadband speeds to all of their own customers.

    I hope and I wish that Lowell McAdam and Fran Shammo with Verizon is willing to allow all the communites to build out their own fiber optic cable networks for their superior mega fast internet broadband service that beats out Verizon internet service and speeds to all of their own customers in New York.

    I like to fight for matters like this in the future.

  2. Good to see NYS AG is getting involved on 6/26. What chance at present do you see for victory over VZ?

  3. txpatriot says:

    On June 7, 2013, VZ filed a “214 application” with the FCC stating its intent to discontinue copper-based services on parts of Fire Island:

    http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7022424983

    The FCC docketed the application as WC Docket No. 13-150, and on June 28 issued a public notice requesting comment on VZ’s petition:

    http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2013/db0628/DA-13-1475A1.pdf

    Comments are due July 29. You can submit your comments at this link (use 13-150 for the “Proceeding Number”):

    http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/upload/begin?filedFrom=E

    Everyone affected by Sandy and VZ’s response should share their thoughts with the FCC and with the NY PSC.

  4. Steevo says:

    That the New York State regulators would let Verizon or any other ILEC scrap out the PSTN after they were paid hundreds of millions of dollars (remember all those rate cases) to maintain it for all those years is bizarre.

    I can’t believe they would even consider it, or that it’s even legal.

    Does anyone have any idea the regulators would go along with this? I just completely doubt it.

  5. Stephen says:

    I think this is a bad move by Verizon. If the parts are no longer available to properly repair the copper phone and data link, they should run either fiber optic cable or Coaxial cable to Fire Island. Even if they had to convert the calls to a digital VOIP or T-3 signal and then run a switching station to these residents somehow, it would be far better than the voicelink service.

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