CWA Petitions Maryland Public Service Commission to Investigate Verizon Service Quality

CWA is calling on the Maryland Public Service Commission to re-open investigation into the quality of service on Verizon's copper network, the primary network serving much of the state, including Baltimore.

In a letter that included photos of deteriorating telephone equipment that pose a serious threat to service quality, CWA contends the new evidence shows Verizon's systemic neglect of telephone infrastructure and leads to inadequate service quality and dangerous conditions.

This action comes on the heels of a September request for investigation after Verizon admitted in a letter to the FCC that it had only spent $200 million over the last 7 years to maintain its copper landline network in Maryland and ten other states and the District of Columbia.

"Verizon makes a profit of over $1.5 billion every month," CWA District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney said. "And yet it refuses to expand its high-speed network to Baltimore and other communities in Maryland, while systematically letting the existing network deteriorate. Verizon needs to stop hoarding its cash and start investing in its customers and employees."

Deteriorated plastic covering on wires from the rear of 3506 Northway Drive, Baltimore. The exposed wires underneath the plastic are discolored, indicating the condition of this splice has existed for some time. The wires are susceptible to damage from weather and animals and allow for animal infestation. Damaged wires affect service.

In the course of representing its more than 3,300 Verizon workers throughout Maryland, CWA examined Verizon's equipment in areas of the state where the telecommunications giant has not built its new fiber network (or FiOS) and only offers service through traditional copper wiring. The investigation documented numerous locations that are so damaged they affect service quality. This includes poles that are damaged, unsecured and broken, damaged and exposed cable and splice terminals, by-passed damaged cable, and equipment that shows evidence of damage caused by animals.

CWA says in its filing that Verizon's systemic underinvestment in its traditional landline network violates the terms of the alternative form of regulation that the company now is following.

Maryland law sets out a standard that permits the PSC to adopt – and Verizon to operate under – an alternative form of regulation. Verizon is only allowed to operate under this alternative form of regulation if the Commission finds that it protects consumers by – at a minimum – producing affordable and reasonably priced basic service and by ensuring the quality, availability and reliability of telecommunications services throughout the State of Maryland. The lack of investment and deteriorating physical plant puts the quality, availability and reliability of service at risk.

Verizon's lack of investment is not limited to Maryland. The union filed a similar petition in Pennsylvania, where a lack of investment has led to dangerous conditions and service quality complaints.

Some news coverage of CWA's letter to the Maryland:

CWA files complaint about copper under-investment by Verizon
Telecompaper, 11.16.15

CWA says Verizon has neglected Maryland's copper network
Sean Buckley, Fierce Telecom, 11.16.15