Verizon caves in Fire Island dispute, but state will keep watch


Verizon has folded its hand in its feud with customers on Hurricane Sandy-ravaged Fire Island who were upset over its plans to replace copper wire service with Voice Link — but New York regulators will keep an eye on things, just in case.

Public Service Commission chair Audrey Zibelman today posted an order keeping the commission’s investigation open in the matter until next March.

Maybe Fire Islanders will count themselves lucky with the outcome of this feud: Verizon says on its Web site that it will install a fiber-optic network on the island. That means Fire Islanders will not only have better voice phone service, but they’ll be able to sign up for Verizon’s FiOS Internet service, which is far faster than the DSL service supported by the washed-away copper lines.

Voice Link was hated on the island — at a PSC hearing last month, Fire Islanders complained about dropped and missed calls, and generally griped that the service didn’t work as promised. Some also said they wished the company would provide better Internet service.

The PSC isn’t the only government entity watching the issue. Last month, the Federal Communications Commission said it also wanted to take a closer look at the matter.

Fire Islanders might count themselves luckier than folks in the Jersey shore community of Mantoloking, who also lost copper wire service to Hurricane Sandy. Verizon is sticking with its plans to replace the wires with Voice Link boxes. A Verizon official told the Asbury Park Press that Fire Island will get advanced fiber optic service because Verizon is the island’s only telecommunications provider. Montoloking residents have other choices, he said.

My earlier Voice Link posts are here and here.


About Bill Sanderson

I'm a New York-based journalist, and a former reporter at the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire, the Bergen Record in New Jersey, and the New York Post. My work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, and Politico New York. Twitter: @wpsanderson.
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