Federal, state regulators probe Verizon service issues in D.C. and N.J.

It's already been a long, hot, stormy summer for Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and now the telco is on the hot seat in Washington, D.C. and Trenton, N.J. where regulators are looking into its recent service issues.

In D.C., the FCC has opened an inquiry into why Verizon customers in Northern Virginia couldn't get through to several 911 emergency centers in the wake of a devastating storm that ripped through the area. The review, according to The Washington Post, is part of a wider inquiry into service problems "at about a dozen" carriers from Ohio to Virginia that handle calls for 911 call centers.

The story said the FCC wants to know what caused the outages, what effect it had on 911 systems and how residents fared. It will also assess "the reliability and resiliency of emergency systems."

Verizon said that some Northern Virginia problems could be tracked to the failure of two 911 backup generators in Arlington County and that it is continuing to investigate other "mechanical and equipment failures."

In New Jersey, what began as a spate of Verizon service problems in rural Cumberland County has spread into a statewide review that's drawn in the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and Verizon.

It started in May, when Cumberland County residents complained at a BPU public hearing that they had humming phone lines, could hear other people's conversations on their phones, had long response times to service requests and dropped service when repairs were going on in their neighborhoods.

The complaints led to a wider state inquiry, spurred by State Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic) where it found "another 50,0000 Verizon customers in the state are also experiencing problems with unreliable Internet or landline service," according to a story in the News of Cumberland County.

Verizon spokesman John Bonomo told the newspaper that Verizon is on it and, since May, has worked to improve its infrastructure to maintain the reliability of telephone service.

"Those efforts are paying off and we've seen a decline in customer complaints in this area," Bonomo said, adding that Verizon's meets its installation commitments 98 to 99 percent of the time and "our trouble report rate has ranged from between 1.3 to 1.7 troubles per 100 access lines."

For more:
- The Washington Post has this story
- NJ.com has this story

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