Verizon Takes More Heat for Electrical Issues

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Staff members of the New York Public Service Commission are recommending that Verizon not be allowed to install new video customers in New York City until the telco can prove that it has successfully grounded 95% of its plant throughout the rest of the state for the next three months.

The staff, which first audited past FiOS video installs and found that a substantial number of them may pose an electrical hazard, wrote in comments to the state commission that recent reports by Verizon on its remediation activities "show efforts to improve compliance have failed."

In response to a 2007 plant audit by state regulatory staff, Verizon submitted a plan to the state agency detailing its efforts to find ungrounded installations and to fix them. The DPS asked interested parties to comment on Verizon's plan, including its self-imposed timetable which gives the company 60 days—or more in special circumstances—to fix electrical problems.

Verizon's latest audit reports to the state indicate it is making headway on quality control on new installations, but compliance is still averaging less than 60% on inspections of older installations.

Staff members feel the repair timetable should be much shorter: 20 days. They also suggest that Verizon should tell the public about the possible safety hazard in the hope that subscribers will be more amenable to opening their homes to inspectors. Currently, homeowners are notified that the inspections are "routine quality checks," according to filings.

The state's attorney general's office also wants stricter standards imposed on Verizon. Its filing on the Verizon plan says remediation efforts should be the top priority over any other activity, including new FiOS installs.

Verizon should also explain that a second appointment may be necessary, since inspectors can't fix any problems they find and that Verizon should offer specific appointment times—including in the evening hours—to ensure inspectors can access inside installations.

Also, Cablevision Systems Corp. and the Cable Telecommunications Association of New York both criticized the plan, asking regulators to demand the remediation plan require notice to local operators when Verizon personnel work on plant belonging to incumbent cable operators and that operators receive compensation for damage already done to cable plant.

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