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Consumers concerned over Verizon, AT&T VoIP-only transition

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Plans by AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) to shut down copper-based networks in favor of VoIP-only service are drawing concerns from consumers who worry that IP-only will interfere with services like burglar alarms, emergencies and fire alarm systems that depend on copper-based services. Some are even worried about losing copper-based Internet connections.

The Utility Reform Network (TURN) filed a complaint with the California Public Utilities Commission.

"Verizon is deliberately neglecting the repair and maintenance of its copper network with the explicit goal of migrating basic telephone service customers who experience service problems" to VoIP "often without the customers' knowledge or consent," TURN's telecom research director, Regina Costa, wrote in the complaint, according to a story in Computerworld.

TURN said it received complaints from Verizon customers who were converted to VoIP without their permission.

A Verizon spokesman told the publication via e-mail that the carrier is reviewing the complaint and planning a response to the CPUC.

"Where our all-fiber network is available, it provides a reliable platform that can support anything ranging from traditional telephone service to next-generation technology, depending on the customer's needs," Jarryd Gonzales wrote in the e-mail.

AT&T has run into some concerns of its own as it plans trials to phase out copper networks in Carbon Hill, Ala., and West Delray Beach, Fla.

The plan "has drawn fire from those who worry it leaves high and dry individual end users who rely on legacy copper networks, especially in rural areas, for both plain telephone service and copper-based Internet access service," a story in GCN stated.

AT&T, which has the backing of federal regulators, maintains that the transition will "ensure that Florida customers, and ultimately consumers and businesses across the country, can benefit from the latest communications technologies."

For more:
- see this Computerworld story
- GCN had this story

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