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Communications / Internet / Municipal government

Maryland People’s Counsel calls on state to investigate Verizon over copper wire

As Verizon upgrades to fiber in some areas, the watchdog group says it has been receiving complaints that the copper wiring isn't being properly maintained.

Can Baltimore get better broadband access? (Photo by Flickr user Arild Nybø, used under a Creative Commons license)

Maryland’s Office of People’s Counsel says it has received more than 1,200 complaints that call into question how Verizon maintains phone service in areas of the state that still have copper wires.
As a result, the watchdog is calling on the state’s Public Service Commission to investigate whether the copper wires are properly maintained.
Verizon is in the midst of transitioning to fiber wiring. But in half the state, including Baltimore city, copper wires are still used.
In a filing to the PSC, the People’s Counsel states that the complaints indicate that in those areas that still have copper wire, “Verizon has engaged in a pattern of failing, whether by neglect or with intention, to repair and maintain facilities used to provide basic telephone service to households in Maryland,” the filing states. “The result has been an apparent deterioration of service, despite the fact that these facilities are paid for by Verizon residential customers who rely on these services in their day-to-day lives.”
The People’s Counsel has also received complaints of a “forced migration” to FiOS or other fiber services in areas where people previously had copper phone service. The latter is regulated, while the fiber service is not.
Verizon disputed claims that it was not properly maintaining the network.
“We’re continuing to upgrade our network infrastructure in parts of Maryland with state-of-the-art fiber-optic wiring to provide customers even more reliable service and better call quality — without changes to calling plans or increases in monthly bills,” Verizon spokesman Michael Murphy said in a statement. “In addition we continue to invest into and maintain copper networks that serve Maryland customers.”
The PSC has yet to decide whether it will move forward with an investigation.
This isn’t the first time the OPC filed concerns with the PSC about the fiber upgrade process. The People’s Counsel previously raised concerns that Verizon’s notices about upgrades to fiber were causing confusion. Last month, the company pushed back deadlines.

Companies: Maryland Public Service Commission / Verizon

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