Contact: Nancy Carr

BALTIMORE (February 1, 2017) – On behalf of the 50+ community and more than 898,690 members statewide, AARP Maryland is calling on the Maryland Public Service Commission to protect the interests of Marylanders in rural counties and urban areas who rely on copper networks for reliable and affordable landline phone service.

AARP filed comments today with the Commission in support of a petition recently filed by the Maryland Office of People’s Counsel (OPC) to launch an investigation into Verizon Maryland’s provision of local landline services over its copper network. A copy of the petition is available here: MD AARP Support of Verizon Investigation Petition 011917.

“The affordability and reliability of essential services such as basic voice service and broadband access to the Internet are key issues for AARP members,” said AARP Maryland state director Hank Greenberg in the statement. “Such access provides a number of positive impacts on the lives of older residents, including the ability to access emergency services, remain connected with loved ones, and prevent the deleterious effects of isolation.”

According to OPC, customers have complained that Verizon has pressured them to switch to a wireless, fiber or VoIP system. They have said that repairs to the copper landline network take weeks, or that companies refuse to repair the line at all.

AARP points out that in emergencies, such as a power outage, landline phones may continue to operate, while a wireless or cellular phone would need to be recharged electronically. Residents in rural communities have fewer alternate service options where networks have not been extended, or wireless coverage is sparse.

For more information and to get involved in advocacy with AARP, email, subject line “Advocacy interest.”