N.Y. petitioners: Verizon raises prices as landline service deteriorates

Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) copper-to-fiber migration and increased focus on broadband wireless have allowed the existing wireline copper infrastructure to dangerously deteriorate, says a consortium of elected officials and consumer advocates who have petitioned the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) to investigate why the company is raising prices while its wireline infrastructure allegedly deteriorates throughout the state.

"Telecommunications providers tout the reliability of fiber optic networks and the marketplace is full of claims for the desirability of wireless services but millions of New Yorkers continue to rely on a network that runs on copper for voice and data services," states the petition. It was signed by 49 state assembly members, seven state senators, Democratic Congressman Tim Bishop, assorted mayors and other officials representing a dozen cities, towns and counties, along with consumer groups.

That copper service in New York is "becoming increasingly deteriorated, is not adequately maintained and the quality of service received by millions of people in the state is getting worse each year," the petition continued.

The critics want the PSC to look closely at Verizon's finances, an Ars Technica story said.

The PSC in May launched a "comprehensive examination and study of the telecommunications industry in New York," including emergency response systems, regulatory oversight, quality of service, consumer protections and affordability, the PSC website said.

That study was not enough for the petitioners, who submitted a standalone request for an investigation, claiming, among other things, that since 2006 the price of residential dial tone service for New York City customers "went up 84 percent while other services such as inside wire maintenance went up 132 percent."

Verizon recently blamed Superstorm Sandy, among other factors, for missing a deadline to wire all of that city with fiber.

As to the overall situation, a Verizon spokesperson told Ars Technica that the 20-page petition "offers a combination of misleading or unsupported allegations, faulty analyses and counterproductive public policy recommendations."

The spokesperson cited the PSC's telecommunications review as a reason why "any separate examination of these claims would be a waste of agency resources. The coalition's opinions should be treated as comments submitted in that proceeding so that the PSC can evaluate it in a broader context of its staff's own research and the views of other interested parties."

For more:
- Ars Technica has this story
- see this New York Public Service Commission post

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