CWA petitions NY state to investigate telecommunications

This week, District 1 of the Communications Workers of America filed a petition to the New York State Public Service Commission requesting a formal investigation of the state of the telecommunications industry.

CWA joined a coalition of 16 allied organizations, including AARP, Common Cause, Consumers Union, Citizen Action, the Working Families Party and the NYS AFL-CIO; and approximately 75 elected officials, including the Mayors of Syracuse, Rochester, Albany, Kingston and Poughkeepsie.

Together they presented a powerful case for a thorough evaluation of the state’s telecommunications. The reasons?

•    According to the FCC, the state ranks third in households without telephone service.
•    Basic telephone service rates have increased more than five-fold.
•    There is evidence that providers intend to starve and abandon the legacy system.
•    Telecoms have refused to expand their broadband service to rural areas and many upstate cities.
•    Service quality has deteriorated.

New York has a particular responsibility to remedy these problems. According to the petition, “Unlike most states, the decision to deregulate in New York was made administratively by the Commission, with no additional legislative authority.”

As a result, “After almost twenty years it is both possible and necessary that the [Public Service] Commission thoughtfully evaluate the results. It is time to re-examine and consider the assumptions, goals and realities of deregulation and their impacts on the people of the state.

The coalition petition asks for a formal proceeding with evidence-gathering and cross-examination of witnesses. And, petitioners want the commission to ask, among others, the following questions:

•    How much do providers invest in the legacy, fiber optic and wireless systems?
•    What are the actual costs and revenues for each system and what are the rates of return?
•    What is the current level of service quality in all systems and how is it measured?
•    Does competition exist?
•    What percentage of New Yorkers do not have telephone service?

In every state, residents deserve answers to these are basic questions. But this New York coalition has begun the process.

Several New York, national and industry publications covered the release of the petition.

Connect New York Coalition Petition (To the NY Public Service Commission, by labor and consumer groups, Jul. 1, 2014)

Connect New York Coalition news release
(Jul. 1, 2014)