Verizon's plan to abandon wired landlines; pushing Voice Link as alternative
Enthusiast - Level 3

This article explains why I was initially offered wireless service instead of a repair when I called Verizon about another phone service outage on our road.  I know copper wiring isn't being maintained or upgraded but I had hoped we may eventually have FIOS in our area.   After reading this article that doesn't sound like it will be an option either.

"Verizon is careful to note its Voice Link service comes at no additional cost to customers — their phone bills will remain the same, at least for now. But the transition includes several important caveats:

  1. Voice Link is not subject to state or federal oversight or quality of service consumer protection laws that apply to traditional landline service;
  2. The customer is responsible for providing an indoor space to mount the equipment (hardly unobtrusive, the receiver is eight inches tall) and provide electric power and AA batteries for battery backup;
  3. Voice Link does not work with any data services including broadband or dial-up Internet, faxing, medical monitoring, alarm systems, etc. You will be pitched an expensive Verizon Wireless data plan if you want Internet access;
  4. During recent severe storms, copper landline networks often continued to work but cell phone service failed over wide areas because of call congestion and  long-term power outages. Similar failures will leave Voice Link non-operational;
  5. Voice Link customers lose DSL service and may have little chance of getting it back once they switch.

Verizon’s solution for Fire Island represents the long-term vision of McAdam coming to fruition. Complaining customers have not been able to persuade the company to abandon its plan, but New York State regulators might, if the issue gets enough attention.

In states with less aggressive regulators, Verizon could implement its Fire Island strategy nearly at-will, especially in rural service areas. Verizon’s plan differs little from that of AT&T, another major service provider seeking permission from regulators to abandon rural landline networks. AT&T is betting the Federal Communications Commission will approve AT&T’s “network transition plan” for all of its rural customers. Verizon is starting smaller, gradually implementing its transition under the radar of many state and federal officials.

So why adopt Voice Link — a wireless solution, when copper wire network repairs remain a viable option?

The reasons are simple:

  1. Voice Link is cheaper to run and maintain as a wireless service and uses existing Verizon Wireless cell towers;
  2. Verizon can further cut their unionized workforce that maintains the company’s landline network;
  3. Wireless products escape regulatory oversight;
  4. The company can push customers to wireless data products that cost far more than wired DSL broadband service;
  5. Verizon doesn’t have to upgrade the rest of their network to fiber.

Customers in Verizon service areas should appeal to regulators and their elected officials to stop the abandonment of wired infrastructure. Verizon argues maintaining its network doesn’t make sense when customers are fleeing their landlines. But rural customers are not disconnecting broadband service that travels across the same network. Even basic DSL is coveted in rural Verizon territories where Internet access remains unavailable. Just about everyone wants the option of FiOS fiber, perhaps the most coveted network upgrade around until Google announced its gigabit fiber project in Kansas City.

Nobody wants Verizon or AT&T to keep up its copper wire facilities indefinitely. But a better solution would be a regulatory mandate that requires Verizon and AT&T to gradually replace antiquated and failing copper infrastructure with fiber wherever possible. It is more than possible to do this on Fire Island. Verizon’s service area in Florida is hardly rural either. Verizon Florida (formerly GTE Telephone) serves Tampa-St. Petersburg east to Lake Wales, a major metropolitan region in central Florida.

What is best for shareholders should not be the final determining factor for an important utility service. If customers prefer the option of Voice Link for home phone service, there is nothing wrong with that. But wireless service as the only option customers have for broadband service? Not at Verizon Wireless’ prices."

1 Reply

As a new subscriber to Verizon Voice Link, I find it very intimidating at this time.  There is no user guide available, either online or when the unit was installed.  The technician told me to call Verizon for information.  I did and there is no printed manual and the only Star (*) code given was for how I get into my Voicemail Box at home.  I previously had my number blocked when I placed certain calls and other Star (*) codes, now all lost or nobody at Verizon was able to assist me.  I was told to try looking it up on the web, which I did and there is nothing available, not even on the myverizon web page.  

I am now looking for a Mobile Carrier (will not be Verizon because of this issue) to replace my landline telephone if I can't get answers for this product. 

Where is Verizon Home Link Information available so I can know how to use the system?