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Verizon Tells More Sandy Victims They'll Never See DSL Repaired
Verizon Uses Storm Cover as Opportunity to Hang Up on Users
by Karl Bode 12:37PM Wednesday May 08 2013 Tipped by telcodad See Profile
Verizon has slowly been expanding the number of Sandy victims they're informing will never see their DSL lines repaired. Fire Island, New York residents who lost service during Sandy haven't had broadband service since last October, and only recently were told that these lines simply won't be repaired. Now Jersey local telcodad See Profile sends us a report in the Asbury Park Press stating that Mantoloking, New Jersey residents are also being told (after a six month wait) that they'll only be able to get wireless service going forward.

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Instead of power-outage-resilient copper voice and DSL lines, users are pushed toward Verizon's Voice Link, which offers voice service over Verizon's wireless network -- but no data connectivity of any kind. Park Press reporter David Willis thinks this is all just nifty and gushes over the service, failing to mention a single drawback to this transition.

Stop the Cap is fortunately a bit more skeptical, pointing out that the service has more quirks than a hyperactive teenager and lacks simple features like callerID. Union workers (who obviously lose their jobs as Verizon shifts to wireless) don't much like it, but neither do many users:
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ Local 824 points out Voice Link was not intended to serve just anybody. It will deliver a voice-only service unsuitable for faxing, DSL, or data communications of any kind...(one local user) says the Caller ID displays the caller’s number, but not name – a feature he relied on heavily. He found about 30 percent of test calls either took more than 10 seconds to start ringing, or never rang at all. "Sometimes the calls would time out and other times you would just sit and listen in silence until the phone at the other end finally started ringing,” Smith said.
Verizon argues it only makes sense to terminate landlines in disaster prone areas where wireless service is more resilient. On the other hand, there are a lot of people who still rely on these networks, most of whom like having a voice line that works during a power outage. There's also the fact that many of these users will pay significantly more for service (Voice Link, plus an additional capped wireless account for voice and data) than they ever did with DSL. However much the industry wishes it to be so, capped wireless is no substitute for an uncapped fixed line. It is, however, far more profitable.

While Verizon is using Sandy for cover on the east coast, this abandonment of copper lines in favor for wireless is a national issue for AT&T and Verizon, who are both going state by state looking to gut the regulations that require they continue to provide services over copper lines at reasonable rates. In some cases, like in Kansas and Kentucky, AT&T lobbyists are outright lying to locals, claiming they'll see more fixed line broadband service expansion if they gut rules allowing them to back out of the fixed-line broadband business. Amazingly, that strategy is working.

If Verizon wishes to replace the copper wiring with fiber it is strictly their business decision.
-FCC, when told Verizon hadn't fixed a DSL line in six months
Despite being the biggest shift in telecom in twenty years, this is considered such a boring story by the mainstream tech press that most aren't covering it. That has helped provide both AT&T and Verizon with cover for a plan that involves either hanging up on tens of millions of users, or driving them to cable competitors in exchange for cozy wireless bundling partnerships.

Meanwhile the FCC, swayed into thinking this is simply a "modernization effort" toward an all IP age, is oblivious or apathetic to the broader consumer ramifications of the move. This was the response one local received from the FCC when they complained that Verizon refused to repair their DSL line for six months, only to eventually replace it with a product that does half as much:
If Verizon wishes to replace the copper wiring with fiber it is strictly their business desicion (sic). – Representative Number : TSR54
Note how the FCC representative, much like its Commissioners, doesn't even actually understand what's going on, and thinks that the user is complaining about being upgraded to FiOS. After freezing FiOS expansion to focus on wireless, Verizon simply has no interest in keeping these landline networks operational, so they're gutting the regulations that currently ensure the elderly and rural consumers continue receiving service.

While regulation modernization is important, what to do with our copper landline and DSL networks requires an intelligent conversation and close attention by regulators, but what we're seeing instead is carriers with bulldozers and napping regulators. Surely that's going to improve now that a former wireless and cable industry lobbyist will be running the FCC?

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Landing is the REAL challenge
Columbus, OH

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reply to PhoenixDown

Re: The problem isn't replacing the service with wireless...

The big issue, and the story makes it out to be from my perspective, is these areas are given NO wireline option whatsoever. Granted this is barring local cableco's in individual areas. But for Verizon I take this away as meaning no copper or fiber. You get wireless or nothing. While the voice side doesn't bother me as much and offers working voice service for reasonable cost (but has enough quirks to choke a horse), the potential broadband side of this just screams moneygrab given wireless data package prices.

IMHO unless wireless carriers are willing to bring data prices and caps down to wireline levels, wireless should NEVER be a substitute for wireline whatsoever. Maybe as a backup but not a full time replacement.
I swear, some people should have pace-makers installed to free up the resources. Breathing and heart beat taxes their whole system, all of their brain cells wasted on life support.-two bit brains, and the second bit is wasted on parity! ~head_spaz

·NorthWest Tel

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"modernization effort,"

Yeah right. If it were a true modernization effort, they'd be actively mobilizing every resource they have to put in fiber to the affected areas ASAP. They don't appear to be doing that, do they?

Forcing people to more expensive and heavily capped wireless services while they take their sweet time is NOT modernization.