Citing a deterioration of services, high rates and an absence of competing broadband services, state lawmakers, municipal governments and consumer advocates recently asked the New York Public Service Commission (PCS) to examine the deregulated telecommunications market.
“There is substantial evidence that in key areas New York’s telecommunications system is failing to meet many of the requirements of law and Commission policies," the petitioners wrote. “That evidence should be presented to the Commission, tested and evaluated, and where needed, corrective measures should be put into place."
Other states have revisited telecommunications decisions in recent decades, including California, Colorado and Oregon, according to the 18-page petition.
Signatories to the petition included a diverse group of state lawmakers, municipal governments and organizations from AARP New York to Consumers Union. One congressman from New York, Rep. Tim Bishop (Democrat), also signed the petition.
Verizon, the largest phone company in New York, said the PCS is already “conducting a comprehensive review of the communications industry in New York and of the regulatory framework that governs that industry, so any separate examination of these claims in isolation would be a waste of agency resources."
Phone companies such as Verizon did not receive flattering comments in the petition. Petitioners contended rates for basic services such as dial tone have soared, services have deteriorated and promises to build fiber-optic broadband networks have been broken.
Since 2006, the price of residential dial-tone service in New York City has skyrocketed 84 percent, while other services, such as inside wire maintenance, have soared 132 percent, according to the petition.
The petition characterized the PCS’s current list of basic telecom services provided as “technologically outdated, inconsistent with consumer expectations, and a drag on economic and social development across the state."
Millions of New Yorkers still rely on a copper network for voice and data services even though telecommunications carriers promote the reliability of fiber-optic infrastructure, the petition said.
“That copper network is becoming increasingly deteriorated, is not adequately maintained, and the quality of service received by millions of people in the State is getting worse each year," the petitioners alleged.
The petition not only shredded Verizon, accusing the company of shoddy service quality and managing a deteriorating copper network, it questioned whether telecommunications providers are manipulating their financials.
“There is reason to believe that providers are cooking the books," petitioners alleged.
Verizon said the petition “offers a combination of misleading or unsupported allegations, faulty analyses, and counterproductive public policy recommendations."