Lifton Introduces Legislation to Improve Telecommunications Service

May 1, 2017

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D/WF-125) announced today that she was introducing legislation in the New York State Assembly that would require copper telephone systems to be maintained in a state of good repair. The legislation is necessary, Lifton said, because copper telephone systems throughout the state have deteriorated due to aging equipment, workforce shortages, and underinvestment by telephone companies, leading to substandard service for communities that are still dependent on those systems.

“This is a major issue for millions of New Yorkers, particularly in cities and rural areas upstate,” said Lifton, “who have no choice but to rely on copper telephone systems, and as a result, have had to deal with this substandard service. There are over 2.5 million customers still primarily dependent on the legacy system for telecommunications and that system is deteriorating badly. They live in areas where people don’t have access to affordable alternatives to copper telephone systems, such as fiber optic services, and so they’ve been stuck with faulty service.”

The bill would require the state’s Public Service Commission to develop a plan to maintain copper telephone systems at an adequate level of service, including, but not limited to, reinvestment in copper telephone systems, maintenance of air pressure systems, creation of proactive maintenance crews, and collections and assessment of service quality data.

“Ultimately this is about making sure that everyone in the state has access to quality telecommunications service. While some communities in the state aren’t reliant on copper telephone systems, many still are. If this issue is not addressed, copper telephone systems will continue to deteriorate, making the problem worse,” concluded Lifton.