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When Jim and Caryn Lilly moved five years ago to a rural, southern corner of Fauquier County, they knew the cellphone service was lousy and they’d have to rely on satellite service for TV and the internet. They were counting on their phone line from Verizon. 

Think again. 

The couple say they have endured outage after outage, sometimes dragging on for weeks. When Jim Lilly needed to contact the police recently, he had to drive four miles down Va. 610 to a 7-11 to place the call. Fortunately, the family of four hasn’t needed to summon an ambulance. 

The problem, in a word, is copper.  

The old copper landline to the Lillys home on Brent Town Road south of Midland kept breaking, once or twice a year at first, then every three or four months. 

Lilly says he’d endure long, frustrating waits on Verizon’s 800 customer service line and when  he’d get through, “it would take days and weeks to get it fixed. We’d have appointments where they wouldn’t show.”  Eventually, a local technician and manager took pity on them and gave them their cell phone numbers for faster response. 

But each time the repair would only last a short while. Lilly said the manager told him the copper lines in our area are very old and Verizon isn’t updating or replacing them. They’re just patching them.” The manager said there was a problem as well with old gear used to relay the signals. 

“We are literally back to the 1800s when the Verizon lines break down here,” he said. 

Verizon is phasing out copper in favor of faster, more reliable fiber lines wherever it can. 

The local manager declined to answer questions. But in an Aug. 26 public notice, the director of its Network Transformation division said the 85 remaining wire centers in Virginia, including one in Nokesville, will be weaned from copper on or after Sept. 3, 2020. It issued notices that same day for Maryland, Massachusetts and Virginia. 

“Verizon has deployed or plans to deploy its fiber-to-the-premises network in these areas and intends to provide service over a fiber network infrastructure,” the notice said. 

After the retirement of the copper facilities, Verizon will cease maintaining them. “To help ensure an orderly transition, Verizon may require customers and interconnecting entities to migrate services  … well before the copper replacement date,” it said. 

Jeannine Brew Braggs, a spokeswoman at Verizon headquarters for Verizon Consumer Group, declined to answer questions. 

What exactly this means for those in the Lillys boat isn’t clear. 

The Federal Communications Commission rules prevent telephone companies from abruptly discontinuing or reducing service, but lets them do so after notice “unless customers are unable to receive similar services or a reasonable substitute from another provider. 

(3) comments

O S

I have been complaining about the landline and cellphone service in the southern part of Fauquier county for 10 years. When it rains hard, you have no landline service. It will sometimes take weeks to restore your landline service. One of my neighbors waited for three weeks for a landline tech to show up at his house to fix the non-working landline service. There was no dial tone at this house for three weeks. This same neighbor got so fed up that he ended up fixing the problem himself (at the pole). I spoke to a tech one day, when he was here. And that tech told me that the southern part of Fauquier County is considered "poor trash" and an upgrade was not going to happen. And said good luck with that. Cell phone coverage is spotty at best in the southern part of Fauquier County as well. If you need to make a cell phone call, you either go ON TO YOUR OWN ROOF or go down the road a few miles. Otherwise, the phone call drops if you take a deep breath. The northern part of Fauquier County has FIOS and excellent cell coverage and that is where the "quality people" live.

JimNecci

Sounds like switching our landline phone to Comcast may have been a good move.

Griffin

"The local manager declined to answer questions. But in an Aug. 26 public notice, the director of its Network Transformation division said the 85 remaining wire centers in Virginia, including one in Nokesville, will be weaned from copper on or after Sept. 3, 2020. It issued notices that same day for Maryland, Massachusetts and Virginia."



“Verizon has deployed or plans to deploy its fiber-to-the-premises network in these areas and intends to provide service over a fiber network infrastructure,” the notice said."



Surely these plans directly impact our county's proposed broadband investment. Please investigate and deliver more news on this important topic. If Verizon intends to bring fiber to our homes we need to take that into account in addressing the issue.


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