Thursday, October 15, 2009

Can You Hear A Dial Tone?

On Friday, October 9, 2009, Verizon laid off 200 technicians in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. In the current economy, that number may not seem newsworthy - unless you’re one of the 200 employees who are suddenly out of work - and of course their families. The IBEW states that there are contract violations and they will be seeking independent arbitration. Despite being a strong union supporter, in this instance there is another thread of this story which is of equal interest to me.

Back on September 17, 2009, according to Saul Hansell of the New York Times, Verizon Communications CEO Ivan Seidenberg reportedly said Verizon “was simply no longer concerned with telephones that are connected with wires.” He also said “We can begin to look at eliminating central offices, call centers and garages.”

Back in May it was reported that Verizon was working to sell its land lines in Arizona, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin to Frontier Communications of Stamford, Connecticut. But there have been plenty of problems up in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont ever since FairPoint Communications bought those states’ land lines from Verizon back in 2007. One big one is FairPoint coming to the brink of bankruptcy. As David Brooks of the Nashua Telegraph reported “The possibility of bankruptcy has caused enough concern that legislative officials from the three states are scheduled to meet in Concord on November 12th to discuss what this might mean for Northern New England's telecommunications.”

So, back in May, Verizon stated “jurisdictions that will not be part of the [Frontier] transaction:  Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas and Virginia, plus most of California.” But because last month Verizon Communications CEO Seidenberg clearly described his feeling of being “liberated” from a focus on land lines, shouldn’t Massachusetts Governor Patrick, Rhode Island Governor Carcieri and Connecticut Governor Rell see if the Northern New England Governors have room for three more at their November 12th meeting?


RoasterBoy said...

Thanks, Lee.
As I noted last month, the landline business is indeed falling out of favor among the major telecoms. The copper infrastructure is too limited now. Both AT&T and Verizon see LTE as their next big meal ticket.
I am somewhat surprised that Verizon is laying off technicians associated with FIOS. While expensive to install, FIOS offers a lot of services for customers and a big money pipeline for Verizon.
There's a lot of unmet demand for FIOS as well. The town-by-town regulatory process is tiresome, but, again, the big money is waiting for Verizon. At the expense, of course, of the cable companies.

Pink Granite said...

Hi RB -
Frankly, when I read your post last month what captured my attention was your shift from landlines to all wireless!

Having grown up with a Mom who worked for Ma Bell, plus a sister (and myself very briefly) it's difficult for me to imagine being without a landline. Even during the ice storm last December, we were without the landline for just a few hours over the entire eight days.

I think LTE means Long Term Evolution or 4G, but I'm out of my depth. I do know that out here in the country we experience periodic problems with the traditional copper wires for our landline and consequently our DSL. But every time I ask about FIOS the sense I get is that it ain't gonna happen in my lifetime!

The cynic in me wonders if Verizon was willing to layoff union FIOS techs because they felt the current economy had weakened the strength of the union. But as a former union steward I tend to cast a jaundiced eye toward management!
- Lee

RoasterBoy said...

More ... Verizon’s Quad Play Is Happy to Kick Landlines to the Curb