Telecom Outages After Sandy

Friday, March 01, 2013

Ilya Marritz, WNYC reporter, talks about his reporting on why some New Yorkers are still grappling with reduced telecom service after Sandy. Is your phone or internet line still down after Sandy knocked it out? Share your story with us (email and put "outage" in the subject line) and post your location on the map below.


Ilya Marritz

Comments [23]

Sue from East Village

Thank you!!! For covering this story. Still no landline or internet as of today and of course they are still billing us with a promise to refund us once service is restored. When I asked if that would include interest they said "probably not."

Verizon is a slap in the face.

Mar. 07 2013 02:33 PM
Noach (Independent, Anti-Corporate Traditionalist) from Brooklyn

Very interesting and instructive comments that further corroborate all the negative I've heard as well as experienced with regard to Verizon.

How about Brian Lehrer trying to get someone from Verizon on the show to respond to these complaints?

And perhaps some kind of massive _consumer_ strike against Verizon could be organized?

Something similar to a rent strike by tenants?

Mar. 02 2013 11:40 PM
John M from Long Island

The guest on this segment commented at least 5x that the copper system was "fried". Was he being incredibly over-dramatic in his poor choice of language or was that Verizon's term? Either way, the only thing that can "fry" or melt copper wiring is a massive electrical charge, such as lightning. There was NO lightning during Sandy. Other commenters are hitting the nail directly on the head: Verizon doesn't WANT to fix or maintain landline service, and is using Sandy as the perfect excuse not to, forcing people to go to Fios. I know from working in new homes on Long Island that if Verizon cannot supply a working landline on the day they promised, they MUST supply free cellular service. Why isn't this happening? And why aren't the store owners unable to accept credit cards because of line outages taking advantage of free credit card readers being offered for cell phones by providers?

Mar. 02 2013 03:19 PM
JohnM from New Jersey

Nobody should be surprised with these histories with Verizon. I used to work for NYC in data communications and experienced many of these delays with Verizon. I am convinced that Verizon scales its service effort according to the service cost and the revenue impact--the greater the profit potential the greater the service effort. Customer support is not in their vocabulary.

Mar. 01 2013 12:50 PM

@ npschiavone -- agreed, of course. In addition, I learned the the 2-8 hour limit on the battery power supplying FIOS, which allows Verizon to say yes to the question, "Will my phone work even if the power goes out?" cannot be replaced or upgraded -- and its short power time is the result of a successful Verizon political lobbying effort.

Mar. 01 2013 11:22 AM
K.Ruelle from Stuyvesant Town

I live at Stuyvesant Town and we've had problems with our landline for years. (Yup, Verizon.) It just goes dead while we're talking on the phone, for no apparent reason. Drives my friends and family crazy--and not particularly good for business calls. Although it predates Sandy, I wonder if it's also because of copper wire problems. I've been through several new phones and it's always the same, so I know it's not the instrument.

Mar. 01 2013 11:14 AM
Name Withheld from Tribecs

Verizon has been pushing FIOS and wanting to switch peoplle to it instead of repairing their copper wire service. They charge more for the FIOS than the copper and make more profit. People who don't switch to FIOS have not been getting their copper wire repaired - to try to convince them. Verizon would rather lose the customer than fix the copper wire system, which they are trying to phase out even though many of us want to keep copper wire access, which is always the only thing working in emergencies (post-9/11, post-Sandy etc.)

Check with Deb Glick's office about this. They are trying to deal with this issue of Veizon trying to force people to switch to FIOS by not repairing their copper wire service. Please have someone from there on your show about this problem.

Mar. 01 2013 11:10 AM

Because time is running out on this good discussion in this 10 AM Hour, a quick note that may be helpful.

It should also be noted that if a household or residence has Verizon FiOS service, in a power outage that household is vulnerable not only because of the differences between Fiber Optic Cable and Copper, but also because the FiOS box (i.e., ONT) associated with each household's or residence's service depends on power that is backed-up by a battery that lasts only about 8 hours after the power goes out. There may be provisions for hidden service within the system after the 8 hours passes, but I am unaware of it. It is also important to note that in a power outage one needs an old-fashioned wire telephone to access the "emergency" service offered by the FiOS back-up battery.
Here is a link to a Wiki article on "Verizon FiOS" that also may be helpful:

Mar. 01 2013 11:08 AM
thatgirl from manhattan

BrettG - Agreed--that episode of Moyers & Co. was an excellent and frustrating conversation to witness:

But South Korea surpassed the U.S. more than a decade ago with far superior wireless and broadband technology! Wake up, America! Unless you pay for premium pipe, you'll forever be tethered to something akin to dial-up!

Mar. 01 2013 11:06 AM
Noach (Independent, Anti-Corporate Traditionalist) from Brooklyn

Thank G-d, I have not suffered any interruption in my phone _or_ DSL service as a result of Sandy. But I could almost fill a book describing exasperating experiences I have had with Verizon.

Even the quickest internet search shows that I am far, far from alone-- dissatisfaction and outrage with Verizon is extremely widespread. And, yet, they continue to enjoy incredible impunity.

Mar. 01 2013 11:02 AM
carolita from nyc

Verizon couldn't be happier to let the copper wire technology become obselete and delay reparing its infrastructure. This is obvious by the neighborhoods they've been neglecting even before Sandy. In Inwood, Fios is absolutely not forthcoming. For four years now I've been waiting for that notification email from them, that Fios is coming to my neighborhood. Meanwhile, whenever it rains, I get outages on my landline based DSL. Year after year I spend hours on the phone after rainstorms with them, trying to presuade them of the obvious. Even in normal times, you could cry trying to watch a whole streaming movie on Netflix, and peak times also create outages. But they deny any problems. I'm quite sure they're going to try to impose wireless on us, once the copper wire infrastructure is defunct, at a much higher charge. They have absolutely no interest in keeping up their copper wire.

Mar. 01 2013 11:00 AM
thatgirl from manhattan

Thanks for censuring my earlier comment, Sir Moderator!

Both telecom and cable providers are allowed a monopoly by the City and federal regulators. We pay more than the rest of the world for second-rate, 20th century technology. One woud think with a Mayor well-versed in the communications business, we'd have better city-wide wireless and broadband, but the digital divide makes so much money that gets kicked back to politicos. We lose!

Mar. 01 2013 11:00 AM

For more on the Telecom mess see Moyers and Company - Show with Susan Crawford.

Verizon, etc. have de-fanged/defunded all State PSCs/PUCs. Also, they are concentrating on wireless & Fios for the bigger $$$.

We need to have universal internet/phone service @ at least Fios speeds (still slower than Latvia, much slower than S. Korea) at the reasonable & much lower rates that the EU & others get true high speed access.

Mar. 01 2013 10:58 AM
John A from mid-Westchester

Agreed! That copper lines can run like a champ in blackouts.
Agreed! That Verizon is deprecating copper service soas to coax people into FiOS.
I Do have a few horror stories on mega Bureaucratic mixups with service on Verizon, But this is independent of Sandy.

Mar. 01 2013 10:58 AM
Robert from NYC

No don't give them that out, "it might be the case", no no they want total wireless.
NYPSC is in their pockets, trust me, I used to work for NYTel 500 years ago.

Mar. 01 2013 10:58 AM
thatgirl from manhattan

To add insult to injury, the Downtown Alliance is touting that Lower Manhattan is "fully powered again," which is far from the truth! Many buildings are still on generators, and many businesses have had to shift to VOIP or other alternative telecom technologies to keep running because the Verizon lines are still out!

Mar. 01 2013 10:56 AM

I live on Ave C in th EV and the intercom for my building is through Verizon. Therefore, ever since Sandy, no one in my building can buzz vistors or delivery people into the building through the intercom. Since I am on the 5th floor of a walk-up building this is quite a nuisance, every time I have something delivered I have to walk down all 5 flights of stairs.

Mar. 01 2013 10:56 AM
Mike Lee from NYC

Having worked for Verizon, your listeners should know that only phone service is regulated by the PSC. Internet and TV is regulated lightly by the FCC and local cable franchises. And while their public relations spokesperson, John Bonamo, won't admit it, they want to put everyone on fiber and abandon the copper. Wireless is only "regulated" by the FCC.

Mar. 01 2013 10:56 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

About 18 month ago Verizon installed FIOS, that runs on fiber optics, in our area. The Verizon tech said that the company is no longer updating copper wires and will only work minimally on the wires. Copper carries DSL, an older technology.

Mar. 01 2013 10:54 AM
Robert from NYC

First the PSC is supposed to protect the consumer but it is in the pocket of Verizon, Con Ed and whomever else they're supposed to regulate and protect consumers. So don't count on any help from them. Secondly, Verizon has been designated the worst consumer relations and service company not only in NYS but in the entire country. This is a monopoly problem that was supposedly ended in 1982 with the divesting of ATT to the local companies who are now monopolies themselves.
Also Verizon is trying to push complete move to wireless services and will not respond quickly if at all to wired services. They want to get rid of their wired services.
Poor Sharon, VErison will eventually get you!! Yes that's what they do, the same story but it's all baloney.

Mar. 01 2013 10:53 AM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

Isn't VeriZon collecting monthly fees and taxes from ALL of its customers? The Public Utilities Commission needs to step in and make some [heavy] fines. They are allowed to operate as monopolies - they need to earn the money they have been collecting. VeriZon may not want to replace the copper but somebody out there does.

Mar. 01 2013 10:51 AM
S. from NJ

If there are a hundred or so businesses with outage, why doesn't Verizon temporarily give them free cellphone internet access to process credit cards until Verizon can fix the wires. I'm sure Verizon can afford it.

Mar. 01 2013 10:49 AM

Brian - on the Lopate promo - ... how to make home-made mustard and vinegar at home. ???? as opposed to where else the listener would make home-made?

Mar. 01 2013 10:46 AM

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