Verizon criticized by N.J. towns over copper networks

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) is once again facing more criticism over how it operates and maintains its copper network as a group of 16 municipalities in New Jersey filed a petition with the state's board of public utilities (BPU) to prevent Verizon from reducing maintenance of its copper network in favor of fiber or wireless.

Filed on behalf of the towns located in four Southern New Jersey counties, the petition asks the board to take several measures for phone, data and internet services to be equally available to the residents in these communities as they are in the rest of the state. 

It also asks the BPU to look at a number of funding sources like CAF-II to improve broadband services in Southern New Jersey.

While Verizon was eligible to get CAF-II funding to expand broadband in Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets, it turned it down.

In addition, the towns also want the board to order Verizon to respond to their allegations and investigate whether Verizon is neglecting its copper infrastructure in the area. 

The many municipalities that are asking for BPU action are located in Cumberland, Gloucester, Atlantic and Salem counties.

Greg Facemyer, a Hopewell Township committeeman, told the problem is much worse than in the affluent areas of the state.

Greg Reinert, director of communications for the BPU, said his organization got the petition, but could not provide with any additional comment.

Verizon, which has been under fire from the Communications Workers of America and other municipalities in its footprint, said it is "in the process of reviewing the towns' filing."

As it has done in the face of similar allegations in other parts of its territory, the telco said that it continues to "dedicate substantial resources to the maintenance of its copper infrastructure" and that since January 2014, "Verizon New Jersey has spent multi-millions of capital and expense dollars in the Southern New Jersey counties of Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem, focusing on new plant investment and maintaining the existing plant in South Jersey."

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