Verizon says it's not neglecting its legacy network, despite CWA claims

copper wiring legacy networks

Verizon is once again fighting claims made by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) that the telco is not performing necessary upkeep on its copper network, this time in Pennsylvania.

CWA provided testimony to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) as part of the union’s petition for a public investigation into the safety and reasonableness of service provided by Verizon Communications to Pennsylvania customers.

The union presented statements from Jim Gardler, president of CWA Local 13000 and representing 4,400 Verizon workers in the state, and Susan Baldwin, an expert on telecommunications service quality.

“Verizon is doing a poor job of maintaining its copper network. Verizon is supposed to make sure the network is safe and provide decent and reliable service to customers,” Gardler said in a direct testimony submitted to the PUC. “Verizon continues to reduce its workforce without backfilling the positions, thus leaving customers with longer outages for extended periods of time.”

Gardler said that Verizon installers were also told “to install VoiceLink for voice-only customers and allow the copper network to deteriorate even further.”

“Field technicians are required to have VoiceLink units on their trucks and to refuse to repair copper plant serving voice-only customers….Technicians are being told that if they actually try to repair copper plant instead of using VoiceLink they will be subject to disciplinary action by Verizon,” Gardler said.

Baldwin’s review painted a similar daunting picture.

“Verizon’s apparent neglect of its copper network jeopardizes the safety and adequacy of the public switched telecommunications network, and underscores the importance of regulatory oversight and remedies,” Baldwin said.

Focusing on areas where Verizon has not built out its FTTH-based FiOS and only offers traditional copper-based DSL and POTS services, CWA said it has been examining Verizon’s equipment for over a year.

According to CWA’s examination of Verizon’s assets, the union documented more than 200 examples in 13 counties where, it says, Verizon is failing to provide safe facilities by refusing to conduct four activities: replacing damaged, bent, and broken poles; repairing or replacing damaged cross-connect boxes and remote terminals; repairing or replacing damaged cable; and not preventing falling trees and controlling vegetation near its facilities.

Verizon spokesman John O'Malley told FierceTelecom in an e-mail that it is currently addressing the CWA’s testimony, adding that the union’s claims are incorrect.

“We’re reviewing the testimony and we’ll have a chance to respond formally at a later date, but the CWA leadership’s assertions that Verizon is neglecting its wireline network are false,” O'Malley said. “The reality is that Verizon continues to make substantial investments in the wireline network each year – more than $3.4 billion last year alone.”

O’Malley added that “We make these investments in our network and in our employees so that that our customers continually receive the products and services that they pay for and deserve.”

For more:
- see the CWA post

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