[telecom] Verizon, facing protest, won't kill wireline phone in hurricane-damaged area

Verizon, facing protest, won't kill wireline phone in hurricane-damaged area

Instead of wireless-only voice service, Verizon will bring FiOS to Fire Island.

by Jon Brodkin Sept 11 2013 Ars Technica

After the communications infrastructure of Fire Island was wiped out by Hurricane Sandy, Verizon decided it didn't want to rebuild severely damaged wireline phone networks. Instead, residents would have to settle for a new wireless product called Voice Link.

The plan faced massive outcry from residents, advocacy groups and government officials. There wasn't anything wrong with providing Voice Link as an option, but Verizon's plan to make wireless the only choice on the western part of the island, where the damage was worst, was a shock.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman accused Verizon of trying to "depart from a century of telephone service regulation" by going wireless-only. Residents called the wireless service substandard, and Schneiderman said it would deprive customers of the ability to use wireline-dependent services such as fax machines, alarm systems, medical alert devices, and DSL. Battery life was also a concern, especially during blackouts.

Verizon has now backtracked. Rather than continue seeking permission from the New York Public Service Commission to discontinue wireline phone service in western Fire Island, the company will bring fiber to the 2,700 customers living there.


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