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CWA to FCC: Don't let Verizon end wireline in NY, NJ

26 Jul, 2013

Washington, D.C. – The Communications Workers of America issued the following statement on Verizon Communications’ bid to replace wireline communications in part of New York and New Jersey with “Voice Link” wireless technology:  

Read the complete filing here.

Verizon Communications’ application to end wireline communications in some areas of New York and Jersey will harm residents and businesses and should be denied, the Communications Workers of America said in a filing to the Federal Communications Commission.   

As our nation transitions from wireline to wireless technology, the Commission must make sure that the fundamental goals of communications policy remain: to ensure that all Americans, regardless of income or geography, have access to affordable, reliable, high quality voice and broadband services; to incent investment in job-creating high-speed broadband networks; to promote public safety; and to protect consumers.

In this case, the evidence is clear that Verizon’s bid to substitute Voice Link technology for wireline communications on Fire Island in New York and three New Jersey barrier islands fails the test.  

Carriers shouldn’t be allowed to sidestep the Commission’s plans for structured trials and a smooth transition to new technologies.  

Verizon moved ahead without any regulatory oversight and without plans for any consumer protections and data collection. Apparently it wants to do more of the same, because it’s seeking a waiver of the FCC’s requirements for discontinuance of service and notification of customers.

Voice Link represents a step backwards in communications services. It will result in unreasonable consumer harm. Voice Link does not support data services such as DSL, dial-up Internet, collect calls, calling cards, medical alert, security alarm services, DVRs, fax machines, third-party long-distance services, and credit card machines, and it is incompatible with Video Relay services.

The Commission should deny “automatic approval” of Verizon’s application, and instead require Verizon to resubmit its application. Verizon’s experiment with Voice Link can be a “technology trial” under the process the FCC is proposing to review how the transition from wireline to wireless should proceed.

That means Verizon must file a comprehensive plan to address how it will address service continuity during a power outage, how it will provide service to schools, libraries, medical centers and first responders, and resolve other concerns.

Hundreds of local and state elected officials, public safety officials, residents and small business owners in the affected areas in New York and New Jersey have detailed consumer hardship, inadequate and unavailable alternative services and increased costs as a result of Verizon’s action.

CWA: FCC Should Deny Verizon Bid (CWA news release, Jul. 26, 2013)

Comments of CWA on Verizon FCC filing (FCC, Jul. 24, 2013)

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