Verizon Announces Office to Improve High Speed Access

In response to longstanding complaints over customer support from the Alley’s hi-tech community, Verizon announced Friday that it has launched an New York-based advocate’s office as part of a joint effort with the New York Software Industry Association (NYSIA). The telecom said the joint effort would lead to improvements in its high-speed Internet services.

Verizon made its announcement in conjunction with plans to launch a joint advisory council with NYSIA. The pair intends to work together to find additional ways to help the Alley’s hi-tech community.

“The hi-tech industry is extremely important to New York City, and we want to be sure that we’re doing what we can to meet all of their needs,” said Paul Crotty, Verizon group president for New York and Connecticut, at a press conference Friday.

The decision to open an advocate’s office is a result of a year-long discussion between Verizon and NYSIA. The advocate’s office will use a hotline to investigate service installation delays and other service problems. The two-person office will also act as a window to the company, alerting larger customer support centers within Verizon to potential problems.

“The chief job of the advocacy office will be to capture information and broadcast that to Verizon,” said Crotty.

While none of the present initiatives deal with the company’s troubled DSL service, the company noted its continued participation in an industry-wide collaborative process under the New York State Public Service Commission.

Meanwhile, NYSIA president Bruce Bernstein said that both the advocacy office and the joint council will increase the community’s access to Verizon, noting that smaller hi-tech companies have had a “tough time” accessing Verizon in the past.

“The big issue that we hope to deal with is installation times,” said Bruce Bernstein. “There’s a feeling on our side that often companies need quicker support for their T1 lines and we need a method for dealing with those inquiries.”

The typical installation time for a T1 line runs about 12 business days, although Alley companies have reported waiting several months on orders.

Both Verizon and NYSIA characterized the lengthy negotiations leading up to Friday’s announcements as heated but necessary.

“[NYSIA] wanted to look at ways to repair the issue,” said Bernstein. “We wanted to get our industry away from complaining and to develop a constructive policy to find solutions.”

He added, “I think Verizon is recognizing that the hi-tech community is a separate entity, and a very important constituency in New York.”

The deal was brokered in part by the New York City’s comptroller, Alan Hevesi, who has courted the Alley’s tech community as part of an expected mayoral bid, and who helped start negotiations between Verizon and industry leaders over a year ago.

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