September 20, 2013
Verizon to Deliver Fiber-Optics to Island Community Struck by Hurricane Sandy
By Michael Mayday
TMCnet Contributing Writer
Fire Island's copper phone lines were damaged in Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Verizon, the barrier island’s only landline provider, decided to replace the aging wires with a novel wireless home phone service called VoiceLink.
But Fire Island residents disliked the move, because while VoiceLink provides voice service, it doesn’t provide connection to the Internet, leaving homes in the area without Internet access. Residents also complained that the quality of calls placed through the VoiceLink service was inconsistent and are concerned about the reliability of the service in emergency situations.
Although Verizon defends the quality of VoiceLink, it has decided to bring its FiOS (News - Alert) fiber-optic network to Fire Island. Spokesman Richard Young said, “Over the last few months, we’ve had conversations with residents, business owners and other parties and heard that the consumers want more than just VoiceLink. So we determined our fiber network was a good solution for them.”
Customers on the western part of the island will have two options: keep their current VoiceLink service, or have a fiber-optic network installed, which can provide the home with FiOS digital voice and FiOS Internet.
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), who initially criticized Verizon’s plan to abandon copper wires to the island, said in a statement that the new system will be better than it was before Hurricane Sandy since “Fire Island residents will now have greater access to high-speed Internet...and reliable voice service.”
Shcumer also gave credit to Verizon “for listening to our concerns and changing course.”
Some residents still aren’t satisfied, saying that the new fiber-optic cable will only last for eight hours in a power outage, which, since the island lost power for three weeks after Hurricane Sandy, won’t be sufficient in the event of another superstorm.
Edited by Alisen Downey
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