Verizon's attempt to hang up on their copper networks in Sandy-impacted areas
has gotten more complicated after the NY Public Service Commission last week indicated hesitation at letting Verizon disconnect users state wide without first understanding the repercussions. According to regional Long Island news reports
, the PSC has granted Verizon temporary approval to pull DSL on Fire Island, NY, replacing it with Verizon's Voice Link wireless service. The PSC has raised concerns about Voice Link not being an adequate substitute for POTS and DSL:
The Voice Link proposal has raised concerns because it requires 10-digit dialing, even for local calls, and because the service would go down whenever cell towers fail during power outages. Hume, of the Public Service Commission, agreed with union concerns that the Voice Link proposal could be seen as an attempt by Verizon to phase out traditional landline service. "We believe that this proposal introduces market exit issues and that the commission should not approve (statewide use) until it is further reviewed," he said.
Some seven months after the storm, Verizon started informing Sandy-impacted residents of New York, New Jersey and soon Pennsylvania
that they'll never have DSL services restored. In their place, Verizon is foisting Voice Link upon them, though users complain the service is quirky, lacks features like named caller ID, and doesn't include data -- requiring another
capped costly data plan for that. The push comes as Verizon and AT&T go state to state trying to eliminate regulation requiring they continue to provide POTS (and by proxy DSL services) in regions the two companies don't want to upgrade.
The PSC is right to take a closer look, given the customers Verizon plans to either price hike or annoy to death will quite conveniently be fleeing to Verizon's new co-marketing partner, Comcast
. The FCC earlier this month also stated they wanted to take a closer look
at both AT&T and Verizon's plan to sever copper lines nationwide, but has generally shown apathy to complaints filed by locals. Neither the FCC or PSC's "closer looks" may amount to much given Verizon's national and regional lobbying prowess.
As we've seen with both Sprint and T-Mobile, LTE launch locations pop up well ahead of official launch markets as the companies run pre-commercial launch tests. Users now say that they're seeing T-Mobile LTE signals pop up in Detroit, Minneapolis and New York City
. Minneapolis is slated for a May launch, while both Detroit and New York City aren't officially expected to come online until June. T-Mobile previously stated they aim to cover 100 million potential customers with LTE by the middle of 2013, with 200 million potential customers covered by the end of this year.
A new joint study by Aalborg University, Northeastern University, and the Copenhagen Business School has found that piracy of video games on BitTorrent networks has been unsurprisingly over-stated by industry
. The study analyzed a the BitTorrent trading of some 173 different computer games across 14 different gaming platforms over a three-month period between 2010 and 2011. "First and foremost, P2P game piracy is extraordinarily prevalent and geographically distributed [at least it was during the period analyzed]," said the researchers. "However, the numbers in our investigation suggest that previously reported magnitudes in game piracy are too high." The full study is available here
reports that freshly-nominated FCC boss Tom Wheeler has dumped around $500,000 to $1 million in AT&T and Verizon stock ahead of his assignment at the FCC. The stock was dumped, according to the report, "to resolve possible conflicts of interest before taking office." Wheeler also dumped significantly smaller stock holdings in 78 other companies including Google, Apple and Comcast (the full disclosure form is here
). Dumping the stock doesn't do much to quell concerns
that Wheeler's thirty years of lobbying for both the wireless and cable industries will do far more to frame his in-office policies than a universe of stock holdings ever could.
After taking heat from consumer groups last year for blocking Facetime video chat, AT&T made waves last week by deciding to block the new cross-platform and device video chat functionality in Google Hangouts
from running over their speedy new LTE network. As they did during the Facetime debacle, AT&T made the obscure claim that they can block any application that comes pre-loaded on a device, even if technically Hangouts doesn't come pre-loaded (AT&T's just choosing language carefully to dodge wiggle through net neutrality rule loopholes).