AG Coakley, IBEW Local 2324 and the Towns of Hancock, Egremont and Leverett Obtain Settlement With Verizon for Significant Monitoring and Repairs to Verizon's Landline Service Impacting 99 Communities in Western Massachusetts
Agreement provides for repair work and service quality improvement in Berkshire, Hampshire, Hampden and Franklin Counties
The settlement agreement, signed by the Attorney General, Verizon, IBEW Local 2324, and the towns of Hancock, Egremont, and Leverett requires Verizon to assess deficiencies of its wireline infrastructure and to perform related repair work in most rural communities in Western Massachusetts to improve landline telephone service quality.
The agreement, filed before the Department of Telecommunications and Cable ("DTC"), is the result of a wide-ranging investigation and litigation regarding service quality problems in Western Massachusetts.
"Reliable telephone service is crucial to every household and business in Massachusetts," AG Coakley said. "Parts of Western Massachusetts, which lack wireless service and access to other landline service providers, rely solely on Verizon's landline service for access to emergency services and in order to conduct business and daily communications. We are pleased that Verizon has agreed to begin this critical work immediately and has established monitoring requirements to improve this vital communication service."
"This Settlement is a culmination of hard work by the parties that began in the Spring of 2009," said IBEW Local 2324 Business Manager John D. Rowley Sr. "The reason that IBEW 2324 intervened along with AG Martha Coakley into the case was to ensure that the consumers of Western Massachusetts will receive quality service and we believe that will happen," said Rowley. "The DTC will make the final determination in this instance," Rowley continued.
"Having the opportunity to work side by side with AG's office on behalf of Western Massachusetts consumers has been a tremendous experience. In long run, it is the customers that will benefit from everyone's efforts"
The settlement agreement requires Verizon to make the following improvements:
- survey and complete repair work by December 31, 2010, in 33 wire centers serving 65 municipalities;
- improve the condition of its telephone network in 34 additional wire centers within 15 months;
- file quarterly reports by Verizon to ensure a continued focus on maintaining and improving its telephone network; and
- provide more detail in the information in its service quality reporting, including specific reporting on the Western Massachusetts Region.
The settlement agreement subjects Verizon to ongoing reporting obligations and monitoring by the DTC and the Attorney General. The DTC must approve the settlement agreement before it can take effect.
In Massachusetts, Verizon MA is an incumbent local exchange carrier with carrier of last resort responsibilities and therefore is required to provide reliable telephone service in most parts of the state, including Western Massachusetts.
The Attorney General's Office of Ratepayer Advocacy serves as the utility ratepayer advocate and is authorized to intervene in administrative and judicial proceedings on behalf of consumers in connection with any matter involving the rates, charges, prices or tariffs of any electric, gas or telephone company doing business in the Commonwealth.
The following is a list of all the municipalities impacted by the agreement.
Adams, Agawam, Alford, Amherst, Ashfield, Becket, Bernardston, Blandford, Brimfield, Buckland, Charlemont, Cheshire, Chester, Chesterfield, Chicopee, Clarksburg, Colrain, Conway, Cummington, Dalton, Deerfield, Easthampton, East Longmeadow, Egremont, Erving, Florida, Gill, Goshen, Granby, Granville, Great Barrington, Greenfield, Hadley, Hampden, Hancock, Hardwick, Hatfield, Hawley, Heath, Hinsdale, Huntington, Lee, Lenox, Leverett, Leyden, Longmeadow, Ludlow, Middlefield, Miller Falls, Monson, Montague, Monterey, Montgomery, Mount Washington, New Ashford, New Braintree, New Marlboro, New Salem, North Adams, Northampton, Northfield, Otis, Palmer, Pelham, Peru, Pittsfield, Plainfield, Richmond, Rowe, Russell, Sandisfield, Savoy, Sheffield, Shelburne, Shelburne Falls, Shutesbury, Southampton, Southwick, Springfield, Stockbridge, Sunderland, Tyringham, Tolland, Wales, Ware, Warren, Washington, Wendell, West Brookfield, Westhampton, West Stockbridge, Whately Wilbraham, Williamsburg, Williamstown, Windsor, and Worthington.