Put the union vs Verizon dispute in the article aside – this confrontation points out a major shortfall in modern telecommunications. As VOIP, SKYPE, and internet connectivity displaces traditional telephone service it should have to meet some of the same standards of reliability, redundancy, and availability that the old PTSN network does. All cable modems should come with battery backup, all internet plant should become as reliable as our old copper PTSN telephone plant. The FCC and local cable franchising authorities are falling down in not mandating better service from cable tv and internet providers.
The complaint stems from Verizon’s “Fiber is the Only Fix” program, in which Verizon automatically sets up copper-to-fiber upgrades when customers with copper-based landline phones call for repairs twice in 18 months. Though many customers welcome the shift to fiber because it brings more reliable and faster Internet access, some prefer to keep copper-based landline phones because they can remain in service during long power outages. FURTHER READING VERIZON WON’T FIX COPPER LINES WHEN CUSTOMERS REFUSE SWITCH TO FIBER “Do not fix trouble” with copper lines, Verizon document says. FURTHER READING VERIZON WORKERS STRIKE OVER LOST JOBS AND REFUSAL TO EXPAND FIBER Non-union employees will take over customer service and network repairs. The union, the Communications Workers of America (CWA), claims Verizon is violating a ban on deceiving consumers and a requirement that customers be given 90 days’ notice before retiring copper networks. Verizon denies the union’s accusations and called the complaint a “publicity stunt” timed to coincide with a strike that began three weeks ago and involves 36,000 Verizon workers. Verizon argues that the FCC’s 90-day rule applies only to the retirement of entire central offices, not service to individual homes.