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In nearly 34 years in the communications industry, I’ve never seen a community have its telecommunication infrastructure wiped away like the western side of Fire Island.
This quiet little summer community off the shores of Long Island was ravaged by Superstorm Sandy beyond anything I've experienced before. It’s no secret that last year’s storm either destroyed or literally washed away our longtime copper landline network on the western side of the island.
Our first objective was to restore voice service, and to do so in a reliable and resilient way. We looked to do this without disrupting the already-damaged environment or getting in the way of other people working to restore the homes and businesses hit by the storm - all in time for the critical summer season.
Because of the monumental damage to our landline network there, and the limited amount of time we had to restore services, we offered a state-of-the-art wireless product, Voice Link, that was able to provide reliable home voice service to our customers.
But our work was not limited to simply adding capacity to our wireless network, installing Voice Link units, and repairing copper cables that were salvageable - we also reached out to community leaders and regulators to explain what we were doing and why. We spent many hours talking to these leaders and island residents about the community’s needs and how we could best address them.
During each of these discussion we reiterated our top commitment: provide communication service to our customers that was not only as good, but better than what they had before. Our customers are why we are in business - we rely on them and they rely on us. This is especially true on Fire Island where we are the only wireline provider and the premier wireless company.
It is because of this commitment that we have decided to deploy fiber to the western portion of the island. The main driver of this was simply that our customers told us they were interested in a wider set of services beyond voice - services that no other company was willing or able to provide.
While the island now has an advanced wireless network, we will soon begin building a fiber optic network that will enable state-of-the art wireline voice and broadband services. We expect to have the fiber network completed in time for the summer 2014 season. Residents of western Fire Island will now have the benefits of both our advanced wireless and fiber-optic networks.
As a result of this work year-round residents, summer rentals, and businesses will have the option of selecting our Voice Link service, traditional telephone service delivered over our fiber network, or FiOS Internet and Digital Voice for their Internet and voice calling needs.
We’re actively communicating the details of our plans to our customers there and to local officials. And we’re anxious to get started on the construction.
Make no mistake. At Verizon, our customers come first….every time.