Union To Protest Verizon Ignoring Its Copper Phone Lines

Florida Verizon workers are going to picket Verizon HQ on Monday because, in their quest to lay down the fiber, the union says Verizon is neglecting the copper, reports DSL reports.

“Verizon is not letting us do our jobs, and not letting us take care of the customer,” said Doug Sellers, president of the union that represents Verizon call center and repair workers, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 824. “Customers are waiting up to 10 days to get their phone lines fixed … If you have something as simple as static on your line, that could be out 10 to 15 days.

Customer complaints have gone up, and union workers says preventative maintenance has been largely forgotten about in some places, an accusation supported by the findings of several state public utilities commissioners. Are you a Verizon landline customer? Have you noticed things getting worse? Let us know in the comments.

Union Protests Verizon’s Neglect Of Copper: Focusing resources on FiOS comes with a cost [DSL Reports]
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. BugMeNot2 says:

    I want Fios TV!

  2. friendlynerd says:

    Wait, a union is protesting a change in technology that renders them obsolete? never.

  3. VermilionSparrow says:

    Worse, I have had Verizon DSL since I moved into my apartment 3 and a half years ago. 2 years ago, they installed FiOS in my building, and I’ve been getting tons of junk mail trying to get me to switch to FiOS. But when I try to inquire about actually getting it, either on their website or by calling, they claim it’s not available in my area, despite the fact that everybody else in my building has it. And I know they installed it, because I had to let the guys in.

    If i do start having trouble with my analog phone line or my DSL, you’ll be the second to know.

  4. grayskies says:

    @friendlynerd: Electricians do Fiber and data cabling too. Thank god someone is actually trying to look out for the consumer (the majority of people) who has a copper landline.

  5. schiff says:

    In the last year our phone line has gotten static on it every time it rains. The static usually lasts about a week. Verizon wont fix it. They come out 2 weeks later after everything dries up and tells us nothing is wrong.
    We were quite literally told by a customer service rep that “the problem is going to continue unless you switch to fios. A repair will take at least a week but we can have fios installed in 2 days.” Forget Fios, were gonna switch to the cable companies phone service if this keeps up.

  6. CRNewsom says:

    @friendlynerd: No, they are protesting Verizon not hiring enough field techs to take care of the existing system while they are installing the new system. They are the ones installing the new system, too, as far as I know.

  7. hi says:

    It’s easier for them to not fix problems until they are widespread. Then they can claim that the problems are widespread and it affects more people and can increase the rates to make up for the repairs needed. Like the oil companies do with their oil refineries. They haven’t built new ones in 20 years, and one “needs repairs” they hike up the price of oil and claim that it’s because they are producing as much as before (which may be true, but also would be avoided if they built new refineries (or backups, etc). So the repairs are not ‘forgotten’ but they are ‘intentional’. I see a Verizon rate increase in the near future.

  8. martyf says:

    Out near where I live, in the 610-982-XXXX exchange, which is run by verizon, not only is the copper decrepit, there’s no DSL, and because of something called “pair gaining” the fastest you can get on dialup is 28K. Really. The copper is so bad that you can’t reliably use dialup anyway.

    Fortunately, I’m just outside of the Verizon-only area, so I have moderately almost OK DSL. But the verizon zone is horrid, and many people I know are stuck with it.

  9. NoWin says:

    …well, northern New England (NH/VT/ME) folk need worry no more (sarcasim) as Verizon has sold their phone business to Frontier.

    Now you will have a new company to complain to.

  10. unravel says:

    We tried to get a Verizon landline when we moved into this apartment, but received drawn out bad service and insanity instead. Worst experience with a company that I’ve ever had, and I’d rather stab myself in the face than deal with them for home services again. I probably wouldn’t have the hatred that I do if I also hadn’t had problems with them at my previous address.

    We used to get light static on the phones there. In the beginning, it was light and a silght annoyance. Eventually, it became so bad that when it started up, you couldn’t carry on a conversation because you couldn’t hear what was being said. Then the outages began. At first, they’d last a few hours, and were few and far between. Repair would show up promptly, and things would be okay for about 8-10 months, but I remember one year where there was an issue like every other month, and one of the outages lasted like 2 weeks. We’d call for repair, and they’d assure us somebody would be out within two days, and then they wouldn’t show. They were always trying to blame our phone problems on the fact that we had a cordless, and the fact we had a computer — even if I’d pulled the lines and unplugged both for hours before making a call, or saying they couldn’t find a problem on their end. One of their CSRs had the gall to tell me I’d left my phone off of the hook, and that’s why I was having problems, though that wasn’t the case. Then they started saying the problem was with the wiring inside the house, and demanded I give them my liver if I wanted it fixed. They sent a tech out, but he couldn’t find a problem with the inside wiring at all. Eventually, they’d start ‘sneaking’ people over to fiddle with the outside lines. I say ‘sneak’ because they’d always tell me I wasn’t having problems, but the next day I’d see the truck driving aimlessly around the neighborhood or idling in a parking lot when I’d dash to the store, and when everyone who drove had disappeared & their cars were gone, I’d peek out and there’d be a Verizon guy climbing my pole. Were still having issues when I moved out.

  11. TechnoDestructo says:

    @NoWin:

    Boy oh boy, you’re gonna have fun with them. My neighbors had them shut off their DSL for like 2 weeks before they’d even acknowledge an error.

  12. Nighthawke says:

    This is where your local and state Utility Commissions come into play. If the telcom refuses or is tardy in repairing your state tariffed service (E.G. your land line telephone system), within the mandated days that the state has set, file a complaint with the PUC and let the state deal with them. Oh, and a EECB coupled with the complaint never hurt any either.

  13. pete says:

    Not surprising – Verizon brought FiOS from the street into my house then realized it wasn’t hooked up to the town. Oops. Then they told me I couldn’t get a regular copper line because a “downgrade” from FiOS doesn’t exist. Even if the fiber is useless.

    Read more here: [www.beingpeterkim.com]

  14. pete says:

    Not surprising – Verizon wouldn’t install copper in my house even though the fiber they installed was useless.

    Read more here: [www.beingpeterkim.com]

  15. Me - now with more humidity says:

    Here in North Florida, an ATT tech told me they have to fix a phone problem within something like 24 hours or they get hit with heavy fines from the state. We had issues with our new line a the day after it was connected. We called and within three hours had two truckloads of techs — one crew digging a hole in my front yard to get to the box, and another at the corner, working on that box. It turned out to be a old jack that had never been disconnected at the TNI. But they stayed until 7 pm when they figured the problem out.

  16. pwillow1 says:

    I currently have phone service through Verizon and I did have problems with three phone lines coming into my house a while back. Two lines were dead, one line had lots of noise making it unusable. These were copper lines.

    Because I had had problems with the electric cable coming to my house a few months before, it didn’t surprise me to learn that the phone lines were damaged. Other neighbors of mine had recently had phone problems.

    I had recently read a story in the Washington Post that said that complaints about Verizon to the Maryland Public Service Commission had increased something like 50 percent because of extended repair wait times. Still, I was really surprised that it took Verizon a week to come out to do something about the lines. When I called to report the trouble, all I could get was a recording which urged me to go online to report the problem to Verizon. The only appointment I could get for service was for six days later for the dead phone lines and seven days later for the line with lots of static. I had to report each line separately. I work at home, so the delay in scheduling service wasn’t because I had to wait for a day that I would be home. I could arrange to be home at any time.

    When the Verizon service technician finally showed up six days later, he wouldn’t fix all three lines the same day. He told me he could get into trouble for doing this. He initially claimed he only had one work order and could only fix one line that day — supposedly someone else would be coming by later to fix the second line! — but then noticed a second work order for my address, so he went ahead and fixed both lines, leaving the third “noise on the line” work order for the next day.

    After all lines had been repaired — and this required a return to my address because they had left without testing the lines and one of them hadn’t been reconnected properly — I ended up making a complaint to the Maryland Public Service Commission because of the delays in doing the work. I use the phones for my business which I run out of my house. In response to my complaint, I received a lot of documentation from the MPSC.

    (Here’s a link to the MPSC site with info on Verizon.)
    [webapp.psc.state.md.us]

    They told me that Verizon is already under a commission order to improve wait times, that Maryland law required them to have the problem fixed within a certain number of hours (not days). Wish I had known this when I reported the problems to Verizon, because I would have quoted them chapter and verse. And then I would have called the MPSC the same day I was told it would take 6 days to fix the problem.

    I urge others who have problems with Verizon’s repair wait times to report them to their state’s public service commission. Many states have websites where you can make the complaint online.

  17. WhoMee says:

    I would have to side with Verizon on this one. Most copper infrastructure is over 50 years old, FiOS has less upkeep and maintenance cost associated with it. Most new orders are being placed for fiber vs copper. To spend money on an ageing system does not make sense. The union’s goal is to keep their workers employed, so they would want to see as much money as possible poured into the existing copper. My question is, why isn’t the union fighting for better billing systems, for their workers to work with? Current billing systems are affecting Fios and copper customers!!

  18. TechnoDestructo says:

    @WhoMee:

    If you’re on copper, and your service with Verizon sucks, and you have other options, are you going to trust Verizon’s FIOS service, or are you just going to switch to a competitor? Neglecting copper affects FIOS.

  19. dragonpup says:

    There is no excuse for taking 10 days to come out to fix a no dial tone. None.

  20. Techguy1138 says:

    @WhoMee:
    Yeah and of course why bother fixing old roads. I mean they are over 100 years old and most people use mass transit anyway.
    All those DOT workers are just trying to secure their jobs

    Most people who have phones have copper and critical services run over it. Until fois is rolled out nationally pots is the most important communication backbone we have.

  21. Techguy1138 says:

    Hmm the sarcasm tag was parsed. Making my post seem a bit more off then usual.

  22. Oryx says:

    @Techguy1138: Good one.

    As for some of you, it’s always so damn easy to blame the unions. Never mind that copper customers outnumber fiber customers about 20-1. I suppose anyone unlucky enough to live in an area without FTTx (the majority of the country) should just keep paying their bills and shut the hell up?

    I’m in my 20′s, and have worked as a telecom. lineman for phone and cable for several years while putting myself through school. It’s sad how many of the new fiber guys can’t even gaff a pole.

    I consider myself lucky that I’ve been trained in fiber, so moving from copper to glass hasn’t really affected me. In fact, most of the guys I work with do both, so don’t be so quick to assume that it’s just unions trying to keep their jobs. (Besides, compared to old cable plant, troubleshooting a pure fiber run is a breeze.)

    This is a simple issue of Verizon being greedy and providing a poor service. I suggest contacting your local and state Utility Commission and Franchising Authority if you have any issues.

  23. scoosdad says:

    @Nighthawke: That tactic sure works here in Massachusetts. Back in December I ordered Verizon DSL, and the boob that activated it “lost” my dialtone.

    They strung me along for ten days with repeated excuses and broken promises to have it fixed by the end of the day. At the end of day 10, I placed a call to the state Department of Public Utilities. Early in the morning of day 11, it was fixed in 70 minutes flat, elapsed time from receiving the first of several grovelling apology phone calls from Verizon.

    Yes, the copper side is getting worse.

  24. ivanthemute says:

    @hi: Like the oil-company bullshit. You want to make the analogy actually reflective of reality, Verizon is unable to expand its copper footprint or repair the pre-existing footprint because of EPA regulations and NIMBYism.

  25. DoubleEcho says:

    You could do what I did – Our phone lost dial tone for the second time in two weeks, and at times only had a static sound. The phone also rang busy when you called it, and testing from the outside NID box showed it wasn’t anything inside the house. So I called Verizon to report it, and they said that a technician would be out on Monday (It was Wednesday!) between 8am-6pm.

    About 2 hours later, I hear someone beating on my door, and when I opened it there were 2 city cops with hands on their guns. Right away they asked “We got a 911 hang up call from this house, is everything OK?”. I let them know that it was pretty impossible to dial 911 since we didn’t even have dial tone, and they seemed to have seen the problem before. Apparently the static on the old ass copper lines was causing it to call 911. I called Verizon right away and let them know this, and LIKE MAGIC, a tech was scheduled for the next day and repaired the copper line from the NID to the pole.

    So the moral of the story is, if you have static on your line or no dial tone….just wait a couple hours and say your phone is dialing 911 and the cops showed up. I’m not saying you should do this, but, it’s very odd how a 5 day turn around time turns into 24 hours.

  26. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    I’ve dealt with Verizon for a long time on dry copper pairs and conditioned leased circuits and for the most part, the lines are unreliable and the service is just as bad. Verizon will rarely even send two techs out to do an end-to-end check…they try to solve everything by troubleshooting from iterally took two years to properly fix a 73RTNA radio loop.

    The copper infrastructure is ancient in most cases and it’s not going to be replaced. Verizon rather put the money into fiber and wireless because…*drumroll*….it’s a lot more profitable! Who cares about a landline customer being able to dial 911 when there a lot more profit in installing FIOS and data circuits. It’s obviously cheaper to run fiber than 50 pair of copper (especially at today’s copper prices). So if you have a crappy old Verizon landline, cross your fingers that the copper part of your loop doesn’t go bad, and if it does, the best of luck getting it fixed.

    Sure, it’s expensive to maintain the copper infrastructure and it’s understandable that Verizon would want to get away from it, but they still have a duty to maintain reliable service to paying customers regardless of how they’re connected to the PSTN.

  27. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Oh for Pete’s sake..remind me not to try editing posts. What I said was that Verzion doesn’t want to do end to end checks, and I’ve seen cases where it literally took a year or two to get one dry copper pair from point A to point B.

  28. BrianU says:

    I have Verizon, and at best copper wire and other hardware from the 60′s. When it rains, phone lines get extra noisy on top of poor and unequal quality. I read that 2/3 of the fiber-optic cable laid in the U.S. goes unused. I can safely assume that even when paying for upgraded/fiber-optic services there are still weak links between you and where your connection is going to. But is letting copper lines get worse essential to getting everyone to pay for more expensive, yet not guaranteed to be better, “hi-tech” options and cell phones? Maybe it’s just easier for the NSA to record you that way, or at least for lobbyists to ensure their employers to get a better deal from the politicians who are the trustees of ensuring the public is served fairly in exchange for a monopoly licence and community contracts that are already in effect.

  29. unravel says:

    @DoubleEcho: Thanks for sharing that, haha. I had no idea static could result in calls to 911, but there was an afternoon when I was woken up by somebody pounding madly on the door. I ignored it until it was obvious that they weren’t going away, got dressed, stumbled down the stairs, and found two guys on my porch with guns drawn. They were cops (phew!), and they said there’d been a couple of 911 calls & w/ hangups from my address. For years, I’ve been trying to convince myself I don’t dial 911 in my sleep D:

  30. IchabodCrane says:

    I live in a rural area. DSL and cable tv are just not available where I live. Fios? Don’t make me laugh! I can only get cellphone reception if I stand in the southern most room of my house. I still need the line line phone. I have lost my phone service to static more times that I can count. Each time it’s the same, a 3-4 day wait for a service call, the tech comes out and looks in the phone junction box (the one owned by the phone company out by the road not the one on the house) and the tech has to turn right around and go back to the wharehouse because the phone system out here is so old the techs no longer carry the damn parts. It’s the 21st century and I’m forced to suffer with 1940′s technology. Thank G*d for satellite services!

    Get this, there is a subdivision being built down the road from me and I had a chance to talk to the developer. He was steaming mad at Verizon. Why, because not only would Verizon not install new phone lines to the houses in the new division, but the developer had to pay Verizon extra for the old cabling so it would match the existing copper wrapped in cardboard cable!

  31. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    @IchabodCrane: I was in that situation for 10 years..I live out in the country on a dirt road and I didn’t get DSL until a couple of years ago. I almost peed my pants when they told me it was available. Before that, I needed TWO copper lines and a SOHO dialup router just to get a 56K connection. Ugh. I’m still 0 for 1 on cable, but I get most of what I want on NetFlix or hulu.com or from friends with VCR’s.

    I’ll be dead by the time my area gets Fios, since I still don’t have pavement (although at least the lack of asphalt keep the riffraff out).

  32. u1itn0w2day says:

    And these baby Bells cry like the babys they are when it come to regulation/deregulation and they wonder why?They seem to forget that they born out a government sanctioned
    monopoly and are STILL to provide service that benefits the public.Then I see were Verizon layed off about 3000 employees last year and want to lay off another 5000 this year?.

    And if the plant is over 20 years old why hasn’t it been maintained especially when their own SEC filings state that most plant has a usefull life of about 15 years?I always heard as long as you kept copper dry and limited the number of connections when it comes to data lines you could use copper for just about anything as long as you want.

  33. u1itn0w2day says:

    The cost is not in the fiber itself but is in all the equipment involved wether it be the circut boards,power and/or even the splicing and testing machines for fiber cable is where most of the expense is.

    That being said I still find it hard to believe that Verizon or any other baby Bell finds it too costly to maintain 100 year old technology at this point.Unless that plant IS 100 years old I bet you could outfit 3 copper wire techs for the price of one fiber ready tech/truck.I doubt a good Volt-Ohmns meter designed for telecom is more expensive than fiber test equipment.The only cost I see is labor but at the end of the year these baby bells always seem to show a profit playing both sides of the regulated/deregulated fence with a mix of old & new technology.

  34. Anonymous says:

    I’m a Verizon DSL tech in a call centre. It broke my heart today to have to tell one woman, who was literally crying on the phone, that I couldn’t do anything for her except file a ticket to the workers of the IBEW (MCO) and cross my fingers. I tried to put it as gently as possible, but she was hoping to have her line fixed by tomorrow. I knew though, in the back of my head, that she might see someone by next week if she’s lucky, and two weeks on the outside. It’s just copper but people rely on it. It’s not less important just because it rakes in less money.