from the taxpayer-subsidized-apathy dept
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).