For a while it looked like Verizon might crack the regulatory barrier and substitute its VoiceLink wireless replacement for copper services in remote areas. However, the public outcry was big enough to drive them into retreat, as yesterday they abruptly reversed course and said they’d bring in fiber to the island as well.
Fire Island is a barrier island off of New York’s Long Island that was among those whose communications infrastructure was virtually destroyed last fall by Hurricane Sandy. Verizon didn’t want to rebuild the copper plant for obvious reasons, and the economic case for fiber to the island’s meager population just wasn’t there. So they wanted to serve this little corner of their incumbent turf with wireless only.
But VoiceLink apparently just isn’t ready for the big leagues, at least not in the eyes of those used to phones that always work (except when washed out to sea of course). And after holding out for the better part of this year, Verizon has bowed to pressure from residents and the public advocacy groups that took up their cause.
They’ll begin deploying FIOS to Fire Island this autumn, finishing up by next summer. Whether they’ll be doing the same in all the other pockets of Sandy’s aftermath where they’ve been trying to avoid rebuilding landline infrastructure in favor of VoiceLink, I’m not sure.