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Maryland Office of People's Counsel calls for investigation of Verizon copper retirement notices

Maryland Office of People's Counsel calls for investigation of Verizon copper retirement notices

The Maryland Office of People's Counsel is calling for an investigation and suspension of copper-line retirement notices Verizon has been sending some Maryland customers.

Verizon and other telecommunications companies are eager to replace old copper wiring for landline telephones with fiber-optic cable, and the Federal Communications Commission has established rules to make the transition smoother for customers.

The notices Verizon has been sending some customers in Howard, Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Montgomery counties are confusing and misleading, and therefore do not comply with the FCC's rules, the Maryland Office of People's Counsel alleged in a petition to the Maryland Public Service Commission and comments to the FCC.

For example, some customers received notice that their copper line will be retired and they must switch to Verizon's fiber network or another provider by Dec. 14, while other notices had a deadline of September 2017. Still others received both notices, according to the Office of People's Counsel.

In a notice to the FCC, Verizon said it intended to discontinue copper service for customers served by wire centers in Towson, Columbia, Glen Burnie, Rockville and Bethesda in September 2017.

"Verizon's moves to replace copper with fiber in parts of Maryland have resulted in consumer confusion and mistrust over the past few years. While these technology-driven transitions are now moving forward under rules set by the Federal Communications Commission, these Verizon notices in Maryland have brought a new round of angst and confusion," said Maryland People's Counsel Paula M. Carmody in a statement.

In a statement, Verizon said it is working with customers to migrate their services to the fiber network in accordance with the FCC rules.

"Customers will continue to receive the same services at the same prices, terms, and conditions, just over our more reliable fiber network," a Verizon spokesman said.

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