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Verizon joins cable companies in denying battery backups

Verizon’s high-speed fiber, unlike its older copper landlines, requires a backup battery in the event of a power outage. And, Verizon has been providing these to FiOS subscribers – but no more.

A Verizon spokesman told Consumer Reports, “We will no longer provide the free 12-volt lead-acid battery. We’ll begin the policy later this month or early January,”

That means that FiOS customers will have to shell out $30 for a battery or get it elsewhere. In any case, as Superstorm Sandy showed, all communications systems are vulnerable in the wake of natural and manmade disasters, and people need robust systems to call 911 and simply to stay in touch.

Verizon isn’t alone in its Grinch-like policy. Time Warner, Cablevision, CenturyLink, Comcast and Cox have also suspended free battery backups. AT&T and RCN said they would continue to provide batteries, though.

Apparently federal law is no help here. According to Consumer Reports, the FCC “... requires telecommunications companies to provide emergency 911 access to digital landline phone users,  but it does not mandate that they provide a way to keep phones operating during power outages, when 911 access may be needed the most.”

Verizon to eliminate free backup batteries for new residential phone customers (Consumer Reports news, Dec. 12, 2013)