Photo credit: Pete Prodoehl

Photo credit: Pete Prodoehl

Contact: David Irwin (212) 407-3718 dirwin@aarp.org; Erik Kriss (518) 447-6723 ekriss@aarp.org

  Assoc. Says Utility Co.’s Post-Sandy Agenda Would Leave NY Consumers in a Lurch, Jeopardizing Public Safety

 NEW YORK, New York – One of the nation’s largest telecom providers wants to end landline service to some New York consumers, a move that has drawn the ire of AARP.  In formal comments filed with the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) today, AARP says the push, if successful, would spell bad news for consumers, especially the frail elderly, threatening their safety.  The Association is urging the PSC to reject the proposal.

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, Verizon wants to replace traditional landline service with Voice Link, a wireless home telephone service, in the areas of Fire Island and the Catskills. But AARP argues the proposal is so broad it could lead to the telecom carrier eliminating traditional service anywhere in New York.  AARP argues the new service leaves consumers in the lurch when it comes to compatibility with medical devices, home security, internet access and reliability of service during power outages.

“Under the cover of Sandy, this push by Verizon could well work towards advancing the company’s corporate strategy of steering customers towards more expensive services, but that doesn’t match up to protecting the needs and interests of consumers,” said Beth Finkel, State Director for AARP in New York. “AARP opposes this move and we’re calling on the PSC to do the same and protect New York consumers. In many cases this move could leave New York consumers in a worse situation come the next major storm.”

Chief among AARP’s concerns with Verizon’s Voice Link proposal:

  • Threatens Public Safety: The new service jeopardizes public safety because it is incompatible with Life Alert systems and security systems – crucial safety measures for older consumers.
  • Opens Door to Eliminating Landlines Statewide: The language in the proposal is so vague it could be applied anywhere in New York, not just in those areas affected by Sandy.
  • Could Lead to Abandoning Reliable Landline Service Prematurely: It creates a possible incentive for Verizon to allow its copper network to deteriorate, jeopardizing consumers’ safety because their dial tones may not function when they need to reach emergency services.
  • Eliminates Internet Options: Voice Link does not support broadband access to the Internet, and so would eliminate a broadband option for consumers in a market that is already concentrated and lacking competitive options.
  • No “0”perator access: Voice Link does not even support collect calls or “0” access to an operator –a key point of contact and information for older consumers.

AARP comments filed with the PSC today can be found here: http://bit.ly/12yJWXV

Follow us on Twitter:  @AARPNY and Facebook: AARP New York

 

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services.  A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world’s largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity of AARP that is working to win back opportunity for struggling Americans 50+ by being a force for change on the most serious issues they face today: housing, hunger, income and isolation. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.

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