verizon problems spread to east side news

| 03 Mar 2015 | 11:33

Verizon customers on both sides of Central Park continue to report outages for the fourth straight week.

This newspaper first reported widespread outages in the west-80s that affected phone and internet service, beginning Feb. 3, and caused some customers -- including West Side Councilmember Helen Rosenthal -- to abandon the company.

A Verizon spokesperson initially said technicians were unaware of the problem on the west side, but later said that about 200 customers in the west-80s were affected by a problem with two underground cables between W. 73rd Street and W. 74th Street.

“These two cable were affected by water entering these cables, not unusual during these severe weather months when we experience extreme moisture, melting snow and ice, and possibly amplified by the corrosive elements of road salt,” said Verizon spokesperson John Bonomo.

While the problem is more pronounced on the Upper West Side, customers across the park on the Upper East Side said they’ve been experiencing outages. too.

Bonomo said he’s unaware of the problem on the Upper East Side. The state’s Dept. of Public Services said it has received four complaints of outages in the neighborhood.

As for the Upper West Side, Bonomo said the problem will be fixed by next week, but affected customers said the company frequently misses its own deadlines for repairs. A spokesperson with the DPS said the department has received four complaints of outages on the Upper West Side.

“The department is closely monitoring Verizon’s efforts to repair the Upper West Side copper cabling that failed on Feb. 3,” said a DPS spokesperson. “Verizon has restored nearly all of the customers impacted by the failure, and it expects to complete restoration efforts early next week.”

Bonomo said the underground cable issue on the Upper West Side is unrelated to any issues affecting customers on the Upper East Side. The company continues to offer affected customers its Voice Link product free of charge, which provides phone service over their wireless network. None of Verizon’s fiber optic network customers were affected, according to Bonomo.

Susan Dudley-Allen lives at 93rd Street and Lexington Avenue. She said she’s been without phone and internet service for at least a month, and has since switched to Time Warner.

“It’s immoral, what they’re doing,” said Dudley-Allen. “I’d like to know what actually happened and why we were all left with no explanation.”

Although she switched to a different phone company, Dudley-Allen retained her Verizon landline and now has two phone numbers. When asked specifically about her problem, Bonomo said it’s an isolated issue and has nothing to do with the integrity of Verizon’s copper cable network on the Upper East Side.

“Evidently a cable that runs to a terminal box at the back of her building, or an adjacent building, was damaged by we assume a contractor or someone. Not our doing,” said Bonomo, who noted technicians are working to fix the problem. “Another customer in her building is also affected. Two customers.”

Another Upper East Sider contacted us two weeks ago to discuss an outage where she lives, on Park Avenue between 57th Street and 58th Street, said last Thursday that her phone service had been restored after about a month of it not working.

After her phone service was restored, she received automated messages from Verizon apologizing for the outage and offering her the company’s Voice Link alternative. The woman, who asked that her name not be printed, said the muddled communication from the company is in keeping with her experience of trying to get a fixed date for repairs.

“I’ve had so many calls that it’s been fixed or it will be fixed and they just don’t agree with the facts,” she said. “I think the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.”

But for some customers, like Councilmember Helen Rosenthal on the Upper West Side, repairs came too late.

“Guess who finally showed up to my district office this morning?” tweeted Rosenthal on Feb. 27, referring to Verizon technicians who visited that day to address the outage.

The tweet, which name-checked Verizon and local reporters, concluded with the hashtag, “switched carriers weeks ago.”