Broadband

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
dsl, wireless

Companies:
verizon



Verizon Punishes Techs That Try To Repair DSL Customers It No Longer Wants

from the taxpayer-subsidized-apathy dept

For decades Verizon has enjoyed billions in tax breaks and subsidies in exchange for fiber optic upgrades the telco either partially or never actually deploys. Now, for the last half decade or so, the telco has been trying to hang up on these unwanted, un-upgraded DSL customers entirely as it shifts its focus to more profitable (read: usage capped) wireless service. Well, that and buying up old and uninteresting 90s internet brands in a quest to become the next media and advertising juggernaut (note: it's not going all that well).

While it's understandable that Verizon executives want to migrate to higher-growth sectors, there's a few problems. Most of these networks were built on the backs of taxpayers, and the "burdensome regulations" governing them exist in many instances to ensure nobody can unceremoniously disconnect phone service from the elderly. And Verizon has been far from ethical as it tries to back away from networks that should have been upgraded years ago, even going so far as to refuse to repair them after natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy.

Pennsylvania is one of several states where Verizon nabbed billions in subsidies, didn't do all that much with it, and now wants to just walk away from frustrated broadband customers. As the state continues scattered, largely toothless investigations into Verizon's behavior on this front, the Communications Workers of America recently issued a filing with the state PUC detailing how Verizon hamstrings its own employees from giving customers better (or any) service:
"We are seeing increasing numbers of dissatisfied customers whose service goes out when it rains or who simply have no dial tone at all,” Gardler wrote. “We know the reasons why—the cable is bad and needs to be replaced; air pressure systems are not working property; and backup batteries are not replaced when they wear out. But we are powerless to make the changes that would provide good service to customers because Verizon is not willing to spend the money, or hire the people needed, to repair the service. Instead, we're told to install VoiceLink for voice-only customers and allow the copper network to deteriorate even further."
As noted above, Verizon's "solution" for axing these DSL lines is "Voice Link" a wireless-based service that only provides voice (no data) and doesn't work with the lion's share of security systems, fax machines, or many pacemakers that require landline monitoring or updates. It was the solution du jour pushed by Verizon in the aftermath of Sandy, triggering massive public backlash from users that found this "upgrade" to be a downgrade.

Obviously the unions have a vested interest in Verizon not migrating to less-unionized wireless, but the CWA also notes that Verizon employees now face termination if they actually try to do their jobs:
"Field technicians are required to have VoiceLink units on their trucks and to refuse to repair copper plant serving voice-only customers. Our members 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."
Again, that's a telco actively punishing technicians for trying to make customers happy, since it runs contrary to Verizon's mission of trying to drive these DSL customers away via the one-two punch of repair apathy and constant price hikes. Again though, none of this would really be a problem if Verizon had actually used taxpayer subsidies to upgrade to the more resilient fiber networks it originally promised and we all collectively paid for (over and over and over again).

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  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 14 Oct 2016 @ 6:37am

    Their point of view..

    "but we're giving them a better service they can't afford"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Oct 2016 @ 6:44am

    Tell it, Brother Karl.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Oct 2016 @ 6:54am

    How about using the Universal Service Fund coffers to roll out fiber? And if Verizon's unwilling to actually do the job, maybe assign the task to a local utility?

    Oh wait, that's illegal now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 14 Oct 2016 @ 7:08am

    Market failure

    1) We paid for it.
    2) We're not getting it.
    3) They're actively enforcing us not getting it, despite the fact that we paid for it.
    4) It's critical infrastructure, as necessary to the smooth functioning of our modern society as roads or power lines.

    Considering that Verizon has apparently settled on an official policy of fraud, (that's what it's called when you get someone to pay for something and then don't give it to them,) and considering that Verizon's apathy is specifically the result of maintaining this critical infrastructure being unprofitable, are there any good reasons why it shouldn't be nationalized at this point and run by a public agency?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Padpaw (profile), 14 Oct 2016 @ 7:29am

      Re: Market failure

      not for nothing the basic infrastructure of America has a D grade overall.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 18 Oct 2016 @ 5:58am

      Re: Market failure

      are there any good reasons why it shouldn't be nationalized at this point and run by a public agency?

      Red scare politics/Powell Memorandum/Southern Strategy.

      While researching last night's On t'Internet blog post learned that the Southern Strategy wasn't just about overt and covert racism, it was also about states' rights and anti-federalism.

      As long as the think tanks and media outlets, etc., whose inception was inspired by the Memorandum continue to exist, they will continue to preach the gospel of fear, loathing, and anarchy that keep situations like this in place. There's only one thing we can do about it: call out the lies wherever you see them and refuse to drink the Kool Aid. The more of us who push back, the less influence these people will have.

      Other think tanks, etc., exist to counter these but their partisan nature has resulted in Echo Chamber One V Echo Chamber Two. It's why the right is in ascendancy: you've got to divide in order to conquer and people swing right and look for a strongman when they're scared.

      You're right, Mason, but until enough people agree with you nothing will change.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Skullduggery, 14 Oct 2016 @ 7:17am

    Time to repay those "subsidies" hrmm PayDay Loans!

    Verizon, AT&T and others should all have to pay back every subsidy, all "tax breaks" doled out, but, at PayDay loan interest rates, accumulated hourly from the time they received them.

    Either that, or make good on deployment of fiber to every house in America, with a minimum of gigabit-full-duplex speed @ 20.00 a month, unlimited download/upload.

    So either pay back trillions in interest, or do what they fucking said they would, but now it has to be better and cheaper.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Norahc (profile), 14 Oct 2016 @ 7:18am

    Innovation

    And some people say Verizon isn't an innovative company...look at all the innovation it took to threaten their techs for providing decent customer service.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 14 Oct 2016 @ 7:28am

    they know there is no accountability as long as those traitors in the government keep getting bribed to make sure nothing happens to verizon breaking the laws.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Oct 2016 @ 11:09am

    One word to explain what we should do

    clawback

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dkone, 14 Oct 2016 @ 2:03pm

    Send them to my father-in-laws

    My in-laws still have DSL and my father-in-law won't give it up for anything. He has a locked in rate of 14.95/mo for life and thinks it is the best thing going. I have talked to him until I am blue in the face. He can get service from Comcast and Verizon FOIS. He currently has cable TV through comcast, phone service trough Verizon pots lines and DSL through the same pots lines. My point being that if he bundled all three with one ISP then his net bill would be the same, and his internet would go to 25/10 or something close to that.

    What he doesn't have is WIFI. Sure I could add at it to his existing setup but what is the point, it is too slow to do anything meaningful. I have a bunch of cool Christmas gifts picked out for the in-laws that I can't get them; like Amazon Prime and Netflix for their smart TV and an Echo Dot radio... but no instead I will end up getting them a new microwave, how lame is that.

    The only silver lining is that Verizon sent him a letter stating that DSL was being discontinued in like 6 months or so.

    Bottom line is that although it is shady to not repair someones DSL if the service still exists, but for the love of God please head over to my in-laws and break their existing DSL and then not fix it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 14 Oct 2016 @ 3:26pm

    The government can steal your home if a corporation wants to build a parking lot... eminent domain... I wonder if that works on networks...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 14 Oct 2016 @ 9:05pm

    Repairing customers, lol. How... apt.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Whatever (profile), 15 Oct 2016 @ 6:22am

    Duh

    Here's the reality: Copper is "old" and maintaining and repairing old technology and keeping it going is expensive and doesn't lead towards the future Verizon is aiming for.

    If a company orders their employees not to fix a network that they intend to pretty much "end of life" at some point, it's pretty normal. It's also pretty normal that high pay line technicians have a vested interest in keeping the crappy, failing copper network running. Switching customers to voice link pretty much means that they are out of a job over time, and they know it.

    So the question really is this: Is there something that specifically says and obligates Verizon has to maintain a copper network?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Whutevah, 15 Oct 2016 @ 12:46pm

      Re: Duh

      Copper is "old" and maintaining and repairing old technology and keeping it going is expensive and doesn't lead towards the future Verizon is aiming for.

      Yeah, baby! Kind of like the "old" people using it. Maintaining them is expensive and doesn't lead towards the future Verizon is aiming for. Let's get rid of them. I'm getting hard just thinking about it!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2016 @ 12:35pm

    Damned if they do, damned fi they don't. Fired either way.

    Our members 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."

    And they will also be fired if they don't repair it and the customer somehow manages to make a stink that gets attention and embarrasses management.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Eric Zeno, 20 Oct 2016 @ 7:04am

    Good Bye Verizon

    Verizon is a total rip off. They tell me my phone will go dead on Dec. 14th.... If I don't pay more money for FIOS.
    They can go to hell!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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