Systemic problems continue to ail the aging copper networks of rural New Jersey, and Verizon's plan for improving the service recently came under fire in a recent state filing.
The state Division of Rate Counsel's Friday filing described Verizon's repair plans as “haphazard,” and called for a renewed look at bringing FiOS services to the area.
“It is precisely this type of haphazard approach by Verizon that has resulted in the current, chronic state of disrepair and subpar telephone and DSL (digital subscriber line) service that has plagued customers throughout southern New Jersey for years,’’ Stefanie Brand, director of the division, wrote in the filing.
Residents in southern New Jersey have complained about crackling on the phone lines and frequent outages, particularly when it rains. When a complaint portal opened on the county website about the issue, hundreds of complaints flowed in.
Verizon's response to the issue has come from a few directions. The telco claims to have spent approximately $100 million to upgrade the service, with another $300,000 to be invested by year end, according to NJ Spotlight. But the company has also reacted defensively to the complaints.
"As far as service quality in the area, our network performance in South Jersey is actually quite good and consistently better than state BPU standards,” a Verizon representative told FierceTelecom back in February.
After a recent hearing to discuss the issues, Verizon mentioned three potential actions to improve service, one of which was to expand FiOS service in the area, as many have requested.
“Our ultimate goal must be full FiOS coverage in all of South Jersey, and I am urging the BPU to order Verizon to make that investment,’’ Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May) said after the public hearing, according to NJ Spotlight.
Brand agreed with that approach. “Perhaps, a plan to accelerate the migration (from copper to fiber) might help resolve some of these issues,’’ Brand wrote in the filing.
Of course, expanding FiOS isn't the only potential solution. The company also mentioned that it could take steps to upgrade dialup internet service and reduce outages by repairing copper lines, according to NJ Spotlight. But time will tell if pressure from the public and the BPU is enough for Verizon to take the FiOS approach.
- read the NJ Spotlight article