Verizon tries to leave California before anyone finds out how bad its network is

19 May 2015 by Steve Blum
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Vanishing point.

The California Public Utilities Commission doesn’t need facts, it just needs to wave good bye and assume Frontier Communications will pick up the crumbling pieces of Verizon’s copper network. That’s what Verizon is claiming, anyway, in comments filed with the CPUC, endorsing a proposal by commission president Michael Picker to spike a technical evaluation of the condition of Verizon’s and AT&T’s decaying copper networks.

The [advocacy groups supporting a network study] claim that before the Commission can authorize the transfer of Verizon to Frontier, it must know the physical condition of Verizon’s facilities to determine whether Verizon bears responsibility for any “neglect of the network before the transfer is approved.” [The groups] are wrong…the allegations regarding Verizon’s network are beyond the scope of that proceeding. In such proceedings, the Commission has established the issue is “not the applicants’ past or present conduct,” but rather “the incremental effect on California operations as a result of the proposed merger”.

In other words, the fact that Verizon is letting its copper telephone networks in rural California – some of which can’t even deliver 1990s DSL – rot on the poles has no bearing on whether the CPUC should allow Frontier to buy those systems, or require repair or upgrade work if they do.

As far as it goes, the argument is correct. Verizon is essentially saying hey, we’re so freaking lousy that you should jump at the chance to get rid of us. Amen.

But that doesn’t mean the CPUC shouldn’t find out what’s going on with copper networks in California, particularly in rural areas that Verizon and AT&T are neglecting. The two companies aren’t providing 21st century telephone and broadband services to all Californians within their monopoly control. The CPUC should get the facts, and not be as cavalier in its duties as the big telcos.