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CWA Calls for New Mexico Public Regulation Commission to Take Action on CenturyLink’s Failure to Maintain its Copper Infrastructure

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) District 7 filed comments today with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission documenting how the company’s lack of investment, understaffing, and unreasonable metrics have contributed to CenturyLink’s failure to maintain its copper infrastructure and how it is jeopardizing service quality and posing significant safety hazards to utility employees and the public. The union urges the Commission to adopt strong quality of service and consumer protection rules to protect New Mexico customers’ access to basic telecommunications services.

“By failing to maintain its copper infrastructure, CenturyLink is failing its employees, jeopardizing service quality, and putting the public at risk,” said CWA Staff Rep. Joe Gosiger. “We’ve already seen the consequences, now the Commission must take action to adopt strong regulations that will stop this deterioration of telecommunications services for New Mexicans.

Read the full comments here.

CWA Locals 7001, 7011, 7037, and 7009 collectively represent approximately 320 CenturyLink employees in New Mexico who are mostly technicians. CWA represents about 6,100 total workers in the State of New Mexico.

As part of its ongoing obligation to its members, CWA conducted an investigation of the conditions at CenturyLink under which its members work, which revealed that, for many years, CenturyLink has failed to maintain its physical copper plant. The state of deterioration is very advanced, including damaged poles that have not been removed, damaged pedestals with exposed contents, exposed cables above ground, remote terminals without functioning backup batteries, and sufficient redundancies to prevent outages. Damaged cables are not replaced, resulting in repeated technician repair visits. Short-term technician Band-Aid repairs have turned into a permanent solution by the company. CenturyLink customers suffer from repeated outages, including 911, and the safety of CenturyLink’s employees and the public is jeopardized every day.

Clearly, competition is not working to protect New Mexico consumers and small businesses’ need for quality telecommunications service. For many customers, CenturyLink’s copper network is the only source of telecommunication services. For others, a poorly maintained CenturyLink network provides little competitive pressure on alternative providers to provide quality telecommunications service at an affordable price.

Therefore, the Commission should adopt strong quality of service and consumer protection rules to protect New Mexico customers’ access to basic telecommunications services. Extensive deregulation will result in CenturyLink’s further abandonment of its copper network, especially since that the company has announced its strategic focus on the enterprise business. Competition is not sufficient to ensure that all New Mexico consumers receive quality, reliable service.

Read CWA’s full recommendations to the Commission here.

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