New York Groups, Officials Seek PSC Telecom Inquiry

Contend phone, Internet service has issues that government should address
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The Connect New York Coalition has formed, bringing together 76 elected officials, labor organizations and consumer groups to push the New York State Public Service Commission to investigate what they say is the decline in service, lack of competition, and lack of choice in telecom services in the state.

They want a formal, adversarial proceeding with evidence-gathering, cross-examination and some answers to questions like whether broadband is being deployed and how competitive the business is, then take action to reflect what the evidence shows.

They labeled the current system as "in crisis" and petitioned the PSC to answer a bunch of questions, including how much investment is being made in legacy systems—telecoms are migrating to IP delivery and wireless and away from the traditional switched-circuit plant; whether broadband is being deployed, how competitive it is, rates and costs, and the contention that the commission's basic telecom service requirements are inadequate, that service quality is deteriorating.

“Every New Yorker depends on quality telecommunications services. But for too many, quality is sorely lacking,” said Chuck Bell, programs director for Consumers Union, which is a member of the coalition. “We hope this petition will begin a process in which the PSC will make sure consumers get good service at an affordable price.”

"Upstate cities need broadband systems that are state of the art and affordable. We don't have that now,” said Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner in a statement. "The state's policies need to assure that every New Yorker has access to twenty-first century telecommunications."

Also part of the coalition are Common Cause, the Communications Workers of America, AARP, and the New York State AFL-CIO, as well a number of mayors, county board members, state assembly members and Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.).

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