Goodbye to the Old Fashioned Land Line in the Catskills?

  |  July 1, 2013
photo by tedeytan/via Flickr/Creative Commons license

photo by tedeytan/via Flickr/Creative Commons license

Last week there was a ruckus about phone lines, which are no small thing in upstate New York, where cell phone service often disappears between those beautiful blooms of mountainside. Verizon has been steadily, and perhaps stealthily, installing a device called “Voice Link.”  “The devices, which the company is rolling out nationally this week, plug into wall electrical outlets but transmit calls over a wireless network, as cellphones do,” writes the NY Times.

As you can guess, well, you need to actually have wireless to use them. Thus, the fight. Verizon had requested permission to replace what they called “plain old phone service” with Voice Link, especially in areas where copper wires had been badly damaged by our rash of superstorms. New York State said they needed to think it over, but then workers spied a truck full of Voice Links arriving and raised the red flag. Some customers said they were told that they had no other option but Voice Link, unless they decline wireless service altogether.

Verizon denies the claim that they’re pressuring customers to go the way of Voice Link, but anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise. So what’s the problem? According to an advocacy group called Speed Matters, “Voice Link is no substitute for wireline service. It doesn’t support data service: no DSL, no fax transmission, no alarm or health monitoring, no access to operator services or international calls.”

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