NJ Utility Regulators, Rate Counsel Oppose Verizon Cell-Only Service Proposal
Verizon’s plan to discontinue land-based phone service in Mantoloking and other areas that took the worst of Superstorm Sandy’s damage finds no favor at the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.
The BPU and the state Rate Counsel are urging the Federal Communications Commission to turn back the company’s request.
Verizon officials contend that their copper-wire infrastructure was completely compromised in the flooding and damage that ripped the borough apart last October 29.
Their alternative is their Voice Link system. Critics, including state lawmakers in the 10th District that represents the borough, claim that Voice Link’s incompatibility with security and medical-monitoring systems, fax machines and DSL, and lack of broadband service leave it a poor option.
The Board also raises the potential issue of monopolization, noting Verizon’s legal obligation to allow infrastructure access to its competitors, and questioning whether Voice Link leaves Verizon as the only transmitter of local and long-distance calls in the target areas.
A detailed response from Rate Counsel Stefanie Brand concludes that Verizon hasn’t substantiated the inordinate cost believed to be involved in repair of the wire network.
Once the company’s request is submitted, the FCC would have 60 days to review it and issue a decision. It would take automatically if a denial isn’t issued, or if no action is taken, by that point.