Report: Verizon threatens to cut off copper POTS customers unwilling to switch to fiber

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) may be keen on migrating more customers off its aging copper network onto fiber, but that transition is creating new battle for some customers that still want to retain a copper-based POTS line.

When one of Verizon's customers in Herndon, Va., reports Ars Technica, wanted to retain his copper line, he was told to switch to fiber or have his voice service cut off. The consumer told the publication that while his phone service started working again, Verizon said that if he refused to have fiber installed at his premises they would cut off his phone line and close his account on July 3.

"Recently, you contacted Verizon with a service issue. Our records show you declined transitioning service to our fiber network to resolve your issue. Without this much-needed transition, we will no longer be able to provide service to your home," Verizon Region President Chris Childs wrote to the man in a letter to the customer dated June 18. "If we do not hear from you before 07/03/2015, your Verizon home service account will be closed."

While upgrading copper lines to fiber has a number of benefits in terms of providing higher speed broadband and video services, copper-based voice service is line-powered from the CO and can continue working through long power outages.

After Verizon refused to come up with a compromise, the user cancelled his service and switched his voice service to Cox which he already uses for Internet access. Despite the fact that Cox's VoIP service does not work in power outages, the user said he had enough of dealing with the telco. Unlike the Verizon voice service that costs $45 a month, the Cox service is $18 a month for a year.

Interestingly, Verizon did not make good on its threat of cutting off the user's phone line on July 3. It's possible they did not cut it because the user filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

But consumers aren't the only ones that have taken Verizon to task over its copper-to-fiber migration. Just as Verizon has entered into negotiations with workers represented by the two unions Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the unions have accused the telco of failing to meet its FiOS and copper network repair obligations in New York City and in the Northeast.

In addition, a separate report conducted by New York City's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications found that Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) failed to deliver on its promise to provide fiber-optic service for television and broadband to anyone who wants them by 2014.

Verizon has refuted these claims and has been making progress in migrating more of its customers from copper to fiber. As of the end of the first quarter of 2015, Verizon migrated 47,000 customers off of copper and onto fiber, helping it come closer to reaching its 2015 goal of 200,000 conversions for the year. At the same time, the telco is in the process of decommissioning ten COs.

For more:
- Ars Technica has this article

Related articles:
Verizon transitions more New York City wireline customers from copper to fiber
Verizon sees value in transforming network to IP, fiber, but conversion challenges remain
Verizon's New Jersey legacy phone services poised for deregulation
Verizon's Stratton sees 'host' of opportunities to improve wireline, wireless operations

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