Today, Public Knowledge, The Utility Reform Network (TURN), and ten other public interest groups and state consumer advocates asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to investigate reports indicating carriers are forcing customers off of traditional copper-based phone service. In their letter, the groups list examples of complaints from California, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and D.C., where customers say they have been told their copper lines will not be repaired and have been pressured to move onto fiber-based or wireless service without notice of the differences between those products and the traditional copper-based service they have relied on.
The following can be attributed to Jodie Griffin, Senior Staff Attorney:
“The phone network transition to new technologies presents opportunities to improve and expand service for people across the country, but we must make sure this transition does not leave anyone worse off. For example, fiber networks offer clear advantages in speed and bandwidth, but may not support important features like medical alerts or security systems, and are not self-powered during power outages. If customers are unknowingly or involuntarily moved to new, sometimes unregulated networks that fail to serve their needs, the results can be disastrous.
“The FCC has made it clear that certain enduring values, including universal service and network reliability, must guide the network before, during, and after the transition to new technologies. If carriers are indeed refusing to repair the traditional copper networks to push people to new technologies without regard to whether those technologies serve all users' needs, the FCC must step in to protect consumers and uphold our fundamental network values.
“The FCC should look into this issue in the states listed in our letter and elsewhere. Particularly in states that have deregulated, the FCC must assert its leadership and maintain control over the network transition in order to protect the people who rely on the network every day.”
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