Verizon Voice Link plan for Fire Island approved by NY commission

The New York Public Service Commission went ahead with granting Verizon (NYSE: VZ) "limited approval" to replace Hurricane Sandy-damaged wireline voice networks with its Voice Link wireless service on Fire Island, one of a few areas in New York and New Jersey where Verizon said repairs to the PSTN will be too expensive or difficult.

The Daily Freeman reported that Voice Link will now be the only service available on Fire Island, which sits off the southern shore of Long Island.

Union officials with the IBEW and CWA voiced concern last week with Verizon's proposal. In particular, the tendency of cell towers to lose service during power outages was a concern. Additionally, the Voice Link service cannot handle fax, modem, alarm systems, and other services taken for granted on wireline networks. Union officials also see it as an attempt to phase out traditional PSTN services, the article said.

State officials found themselves in a tough spot on the issue. As Memorial Day weekend looms, signaling the start of the summer season at Fire Island--a popular vacation spot--the PSC needed to get communications up quickly. At the same time, Verizon stated that the cost of replacing poles and lines on the island was too high to get a return on its investment, due to the low number of year-round residents.

Fire Island isn't the only location facing the extinction of POTS. Mantoloking, N.J., and other rural communities in New Jersey are also part of Verizon's plan to forgo repairs of their damaged wireline networks and move to VoiceLink. Many residents haven't had traditional phone service for more than six months.

For more:
- the Daily Freeman has this story

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