CWA and regulatory staff blast Verizon’s service quality in NY

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) and New York Public Service Commission (PSC) staff filed extensive testimony documenting serious problems with Verizon’s wireline network in New York. The filings are part of the PSC’s formal investigation into the reliability and quality of Verizon wireline service in the state.

“For at least the past two decades – and with much greater frequency and concern since the PSC eliminated service quality penalties in 2005 – I have heard repeatedly from members about the ways in which the company has virtually abandoned upkeep of the legacy system, and let it age and deteriorate,” said Robert Master, Assistant to the Vice President of the Communications Workers of America’s District 1, which includes New York.

“I have heard a litany of complaints from every part of the state about the ways in which members are prevented by management from undertaking the kind of thorough repair and maintenance of the aging network that is necessary to ensure that customers receive consistently high quality service,” he added. “And I can assure this Commission that this is an enormous source of frustration for our members, as is vividly reflected in the testimony submitted by several of our recently retired members.”

Master testified to a wide range of issues that concern CWA members and Verizon customers, whose interests align on questions of quality service, including transducers, cable splicing, VoiceLink, FiOS, and adequate staffing to provide prompt, quality service. CWA’s filing included statements from four recently retired union technicians detailing Verizon’s systematic neglect of the network.

“The remedies are not complicated,” Master’s is testimony concluded. “Using its existing legal powers as they are described in the Order, the Commission should adopt a requirement that the copper system be maintained in a ‘state of good repair,’” a legal definition the requires the adequate funding of resources to maintain and upgrade critical aging infrastructure. He also said the NY PSC should hold Verizon accountable to its customers by strengthening its service quality metrics and penalties.

CWA’s testimony also included a detailed analysis of Verizon service quality data by expert witness Susan Baldwin and an in-depth financial analysis of Verizon-NY by Randy Barber. Barber’s testimony, based on thousands of pages of confidential Verizon documents, concluded that “Verizon New York has consciously, methodically disinvested in its copper network… Indeed, the deterioration of the copper system in New York is clear policy… Moreover, there are strong indications that Verizon New York, and its parent Verizon Communications, engage in practices which allocate expenses and revenues to the detriment of the regulated New York operations.”

NY PSC staff concurred with CWA’s critique. “Based on data made available by Verizon,” the NY PSC Service Quality Panel wrote, “the Company’s service quality for non-Core (e.g. 94 percent of customers) is not meeting the Commission’s service quality standards, has not improved, and in some cases has gotten worse since the Commission implemented the SQIP (deregulatory “Service Quality Improvement Plan) in 2010.”

There are 2.7 million Verizon customers relying on neglected copper infrastructure. The PSC reports that there are extensive complaints about the reliability of Verizon’s copper network, and Verizon fails to meet even minimal service quality benchmarks. Hearings in the NY PSC probe will begin in June 2017.

Read Robert Master’s full testimony here and additional CWA and NY PSC staff testimony here.

 

Links:

NY regulators launch investigation into Verizon’s copper network (Speed Matters, Mar. 18, 2016)

Testimony of Bob Master before the NY PSC (NY PSC, Mar. 24, 2017)