NJ consumers move to slow Verizon switch from copper lines to fiber-optics systems

 New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel director Stefanie Brand wants the Federal Communications Commission to prevent Verizon from discontinuing traditional copper landline service to consumers who want to keep it. (AP file photo)

New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel director Stefanie Brand wants the Federal Communications Commission to prevent Verizon from discontinuing traditional copper landline service to consumers who want to keep it. (AP file photo)

The New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel claims Verizon is switching traditional copper landline phone customers to a fiber optic system without proper notification.

Rate Counsel director Stefanie Brand wants the Federal Communications Commission to prevent Verizon from discontinuing copper line service to consumers who want to keep it.

Brand said she’s received complaints from customers worried that some medical equipment won’t work on the fiber system.

“If you have a pacemaker a lot of people are required to upload the data from the pacemaker to their doctors and that has to be done on a copper landline,” she said. “There are certain alarm systems that don’t work with a copper landline.”

Verizon spokesman Lee Gierczynski denied those claims.

“Those are myths and misinformation that the rate counsel continues to perpetuate. All services that work over the copper network continue to work over the fiber network,” he said.

“Verizon is providing customers the same service that they have today at the same rates, terms, and conditions. Once they are on the fiber network, customers experience more robust service than they do on the legacy copper network.”

Verizon is explaining to customers what it’s doing and why, Gierczynski said.

While Brand said she believes fiber is the future, she wants the Federal Communications Commission and the state Board of Public Utilities to make sure consumers are protected as that transition occurs.

“If you want basic telephone service, there really aren’t a lot of options, and customers who still want that service rely on their regulators to make sure they’re treated fairly by the company,” she said. “I’m hopeful that someone will listen. I couldn’t put odds on it.”

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