from the service-level:-abandonment dept
Verizon's service record has been less-than-stellar over the years. The increased scrutiny it faced after it decided it wouldn't restore copper line service to New Yorkers whose connections were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy resulted in it partially walking back that decision. It was also recently ordered to turn over cost data on its copper lines (as compared to the wireless service it was trying to push these customers to switch to) by the New York Public Service Commission. This followed its original response to the FOI request, which was nothing but page after page of retracted data.
It's no secret Verizon would prefer its customers to switch to its wireless Voicelink, which contains profitable data and voice caps. This is something it has in common with other major service providers like AT&T. It sometimes appears Verizon is waging a war of attrition against its customers in hopes of shedding those subscribed to services it no longer wishes to support while pushing others towards more profitable, but inferior, services.
Evidence of this approach recently surfaced in West Virginia, where a competing company had taken over Verizon's former service area. The net result? A nearly 70% drop in complaints. (via BroadbandReports, Karl Bode's other home)
Nearly four years after taking over Verizon's West Virginia landline operations, Frontier Communications has expanded broadband access to roughly 176,000 households and seen consumer complaints drop by nearly 70 percent.The state set down a list of requirements when Frontier took over, including instructing it to invest nearly $300 million to build out the network and improve service quality. Frontier did both, and well ahead of schedule. Frontier was required to hit 85% broadband coverage by the end of this year. At this point, it has already hit 88%, well over Verizon's mark of 62% when Frontier took over. It has also added a 2,600-mile fiber optic transport system which has increased speed and reliability on the network.
But before we start inscribing Frontier's name on the Company of the Year trophy (remember: Frontier spent a bit of time pushing for data caps), it's important to note how little Frontier would have actually had to do to improve on Verizon's service level. As Karl Bode pointed out in the Techdirt back room, any company taking over that provided a minimum of competence and care would likely have seen the same level of improvement.
According to Bode, Verizon's "service" in the Charleston area rarely approached the lower rungs of "awful," and more frequently resembled complete abandonment. Verizon service members would throw garbage bags over outdoor equipment to "protect" them from the elements, service calls routinely went unanswered for days and the service techs themselves were further handicapped by the company's refusal to provide them with the proper tools and equipment. This abysmal service record helps explain the list of requirements the state's Public Service Commission handed to Frontier when it took over the territory.
In the end, though, it still looks like a win for Charleston residents. They're getting faster, more reliable service in more areas. But it also looks like a win for Verizon, which was able to ditch some landline territory it clearly had no interest in maintaining.