AARP wants Verizon to replace landlines in Sandy-ravaged town

 AARP wants Verizon to replace landlines in Sandy-ravaged town (Mel Evans/AP Photo, file)

AARP wants Verizon to replace landlines in Sandy-ravaged town (Mel Evans/AP Photo, file)

The AARP has asked the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to investigate Verizon’s decision to replace landlines damaged by Hurricane Sandy in Mantoloking with a wireless phone service, called Voice Link.

The AARP raised concerns about the reliability, regulation, and cost of the new product, which it believes to be inferior to a traditional copper-wire landline.

Douglas Johnston, AARP’s governmental affairs manager for New Jersey, also questions the legality of Verizon’s decision.

“The point is that Verizon does not have the right to make this decision on its own to cut people’s landline phone,” he said. “It is a regulated-by-law utility and they don’t have the right to do it and the BPU needs to look into this.”

Verizon spokesman Lee Gierczynski says the land lines were damaged beyond repair by the storm, and that the new system is the most effective solution to the problem.

“This is typical over-the-top, the-sky-is-falling rhetoric from the AARP,” he said. “The AARP fundamentally misunderstand what Voice Link is and how it works and how Verizon is using it. They just rely on fear and speculation rather than facts.”

Gierczynski acknowledges that Voice Link does not support data or monitoring services currently, but he also said the product would evolve over time.

So far, only a hundred or so Verizon customers in Mantoloking are using Voice Link. If the BPU decides to investigate, customers, businesses and other New Jersey residents would be able to voice their own opinions.

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