Is Verizon intentionally letting their landlines deteriorate for a wireless push?

July 9, 2014
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Verizon

Verizon seems dead-set on trying to see how many states they can screw over in the Northeast part of the country.

After taking nearly $13 billion in subsidies and tax cuts from New Jersey to wire the entire state, Verizon decided against following through with their contract and instead paid off got the New Jersey State Board of Public Utilities to unanimously agree that Verizon LTE service was similar to fiber-to-the-home service. Nevermind that anyone who has Verizon LTE as their home internet service can tell you that you face low data caps, expensive plans and consistently average service for gaming, Netflix-watching, etc.

itep-chart-01 NJPP.org

After taking around $2.1 billion dollars from the Pennsylvania, Verizon decided to simply pick and choose which areas they wanted to serve all the while taking the full amount of incentives from the state and leaving large portions of the state unserved.

After agreeing with New York to wire the entire state before 2014, Verizon has recently admitted that they will not in fact do such a thing (thanks to fine print that gives them a number of outs).

Now, New York has lawmakers, city officials and advocacy groups demanding an investigation into whether Verizon intentionally raised prices of landline service to kill off customers and therefore give Verizon an excuse to leave the landlines behind (even though they accepted the billions in tax cuts to build/maintain them) for the more expensive wireless or FiOS plans.

“Our investment in the City is historic, which is reflected in the citywide nature of our plan,” Azare said. “When our fiber deployment project is completed it will reach to each and every borough, neighborhood, boulevard, avenue and street, without regard to the demographics of a particular area.” -¬†Monica Azare, Verizon senior vice president for New York and Connecticut.

Or not…

Now, New York is yet again about to start a fight with Verizon. In a petition filed and signed last week by almost one-third of the State Assembly members, mayors across the state, and a number of State Senate members (and others) to the New York Public Service Commission (PSC), it is asserted that New York City customer phone bills went up 84 percent, while other services went up 132 percent.

Comparing Fixes To The Phone Unlocking Debate PublicKnowledge

As Ars Technica notes, lawmakers and consumer advocacy groups want the PSC to take a close look at Verizon’s finances. Why? Because on Verizon’s 2013 financial report with the New York State Commission, it shows that there was¬†a decrease in operating expenses of about $3.8 billion from 2012 and an overall profit of $1.2 billion (up from a previous year loss of $2.6 billion). What happened exactly? We don’t know just yet.

This is not the first time that Verizon has faced complaints about the deterioration of landlines in California:

The Utility Reform Network (TURN) has filed a complaint with the California Public Utilities Commission, claiming that Verizon is refusing to repair lines — or pushing people on to digital voice services — without the customer often understanding the migration or having given their consent. Verizon’s approach is two-fold. In many areas the company wisely wants to migrate DSL and POTS customers — especially those on troubled lines — on to FiOS services in order to provide more reliable service with lower maintenance costs. On the other side, Verizon is looking to simply hang up on many rural customers and migrate them to more expensive wireless as part of an improved profitability move. - Broadband Reports

For a company that made almost $5 billion in profit last quarter, it seems suspicious that they can’t afford to keep DSL lines operational.

Verizon recently got rejected from hanging up on New York areas that were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. While Verizon tried their best to bury the story, it got national attention that Verizon wanted to push their VoiceLink service which nobody wanted outside of Verizon. Verizon wants to hang up these DSL areas so that the broadband landscape of the country can move towards wireless technology that costs wireless providers significantly less to handle while billing customers for high overages.

2014-Infonetics-1st-Ed-Cpx-Rev-Opex-Subs-Database-Chart BusinessWire

Can we please audit how much taxpayer money has gone to Verizon from federal and state governments over the years and do a direct comparison to actual build and maintenance costs? Although Verizon loves to cry foul about the state and federal governments, nobody is blocking Verizon from upgrading their landlines to fiber.

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