September 13, 2017

Company says it was 'blindsided' by Verizon's pullout of Downeast service

Mainebiz photo archives
Mainebiz photo archives
Maine Public Advocote Barry Hobbins said he would be meeting with Maine Attorney General Janet Mills to determine how the state might respond to Verizon Wireless's sudden announcement that it was terminating service for 2,000 of its customers in Washington County

A Portland-based telecommunications company that was selected to work with Verizon Wireless to expand service in rural areas, says it was "blindsided" by Verizon's sudden change of mind in Washington County.

Wireless Partners, which built and operates what it describes as a "state of the art 4G LTE VoLTE wireless network" for Verizon Wireless and its customers in Washington and East Hancock counties in Maine and Coos County in New Hampshire, said in a news release it had no prior notice of Verizon's planned withdrawal from the Downeast county.

Verizon Wireless has notified 2,000 of its customers in Washington County that it is pulling out of its rural service agreements there as part of pullback affecting up to 40,000 of its rural customers nationwide.

Maine Public reported that Verizon sent notices to its Washington County customers urging them to sign new contracts with other cell phone providers by Oct. 17 if they wish to retain their current cell phone numbers.

Maine Public Advocate Barry Hobbins told Maine Public that Verizon apparently found that the calling plans it introduced in Washington County, which featured no cap limitations as a way to entice new customers, proved more costly due to higher-than-expected roaming costs.

Hobbins said he would be meeting with Maine Attorney General Janet Mills to determine how the state might respond.

David Weismann, public relations manager for Verizon's Northeast Market, told Maine Public the company notified only a small group of customers who live outside the company's service area and who use a significant amount of data that it was canceling service, adding that the decision would not affect customers who live within the Verizon service area.

Wireless Partners says it is still seeking resolution

Wireless Partners was made aware of the Verizon customer termination letters not by Verizon Wireless, but by concerned customers in receipt of the notification, the company said in its release.

Bob Parsloe, CEO of Wireless Partners, issued the following statement:

"Access to 4G LTE is an essential 21st century infrastructure need and it is the mission of Wireless Partners to meet that need in rural, underserved areas of Maine and New Hampshire. To that end, Wireless Partners built, owns, operates, and is expanding a Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network in Downeast Maine. Along with our network users, we were blindsided to learn that Verizon Wireless mailed subscription cancellation notices to their customers on this network.

"Wireless Partners was not given advance warning that Verizon Wireless was planning to restrict new customers nor terminate existing customers. We were only made aware of this development from concerned Verizon Wireless customers who were in receipt of the cancellation notification.

"Verizon Wireless did ask Wireless Partners to assist them in reducing the contractually agreed costs of using our networks. Wireless Partners promptly informed Verizon that it was ready to address their concerns. At no point during this dialogue, which continues in earnest, did Verizon Wireless indicate to us their intent to restrict new customers and cancel current customers."

Parsloe said his company had received "overwhelming support" from communities served by its 4G LTE network.

"However, Verizon Wireless' recent actions have turned that exuberance into significant concern among business owners, public safety officials, and everyday consumers for whom this is their sole means of cellular voice and broadband internet service," he said. "In respect of our mission, our network users, and the potentially devastating public safety and economic development consequences, we will exhaust every effort to cause Verizon Wireless to rethink this extremely consequential decision and to honor the promise of its LRA program. We are hopeful that a resolution is achievable and that this critical infrastructure will remain in service."


Type your comment here:

Today's Poll Do you support the committee's proposal to charge a 20% sales tax on recreational marijuana instead of the 10% rate approved by voters?<>
Most Popular on Facebook