Verizon's wireless replacement plan does more harm than good, CWA, IBEW unions say

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) will offer only wireless-based services in remote areas such as Fire Island, N.Y., and parts of New Jersey, plans that are drawing fire from the CWA and IBEW unions as well as local residents. The move is part of the carrier's plan to do away with its copper network in areas of the Northeast ravaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Pete Sikora, legislative director and research economist for CWA District 1, told the Times Union that local users will no longer be able to get DSL service, meaning that the only option for broadband will be cable.  

"The PSC [Public Service Commission] should call timeout to protect consumers instead of allowing Verizon to boost its already massive profits," he said.

The telco has asked state regulators if it can replace the copper wiring on Fire Island damaged by Hurricane Sandy with a wireless system that it says is more resistant to flooding and is "on par" with the quality and price of a copper-based line.

A report in the Asbury Park Press said that residents in Mantoloking, N.J., are being told--after six months without service--that they will only be able to get a wireless service, Verizon VoiceLink

Members of the IBEW Local 824 said one of the issues with Voice Link is that it can only deliver voice and "cannot be used for Fax, Modem, Alarms, etc."

Besides the unions, a number of residents in New Jersey affected by the storms told Stop the Cap! that they are also not happy about the telco's plan.

"This is the death knell for wired broadband in areas bypassed by cable along coastal New Jersey," said Dale Smith. "We lost our Verizon landline and DSL service during Sandy and have had nothing but a cell phone for the last six months because Verizon has dragged its feet."

For more:
- the Times Union has this article
- Asbury Park Press has this article

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