Copper line vs. VoIP; Ohio Fioptics customers get surprise after storm

From WCPO Cincinnati, Ohio

By John Matarese
March 4, 2017

Thousands of Tri-Staters have made the switch to Cincinnati Bell Fioptics, as an alternative to cable TV.

It includes your internet, home phone (with the same number you always had) and TV channels, often at a lower price than Spectrum Cable offers.

But some of those customers got an unwelcome surprise during this past week’s big storms.

Landline was a lifeline

Since Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, a home phone was a lifeline during a crisis, with that copper line always on even when the electric was out.

Not anymore.

Sheryl Pockrose recently signed up for a Fioptics package, assuming her phone would remain the same — even though her internet service changed from Spectrum (formerly Time Warner) to Cincinnati Bell.

“To me, having a home phone is not a luxury. It’s a necessity during an emergency,” she said.

But the Covedale, Ohio woman claims only after she switched to Fioptics did she learn her phone would not work in a power outage. When her new fiber setup was installed, her old copper landline wire was disconnected.

But she claims no one told her at the time, until she received a letter a month later.

We all received a letter saying your telephone will not work if the power goes out. Even though it is still a landline connected to the wall,” she said.

Cheryl says several friends of hers lost power and phones in this past week’s storms and got a real surprise.

“They were using their devices and laptops to say, ‘Hey we’re OK, there’s trees down, but we just found out our phones don’t work.'”

All VOIP phones need electric power

In fairness, it is not just Cincinnati Bell. Time Warner Cable, now Spectrum, also has Voice over internet Protocol, or VoIP, telephones that require a modem and electric power to work.

Last year, Chantel Oliver of Fairfield, Ohio asked me why fiber phones are considered an advancement.

“I consider it a downgrade, because when the power goes out, you have no phone,” she said.

Cincinnati Bell tells us most customers now have a cell phone for backup, but if you are concerned, they can sell you a battery backup kit for $100 [which only gives a limited amount of calling time].

Pockrose thinks it should be standard.

“I think that upgrade should include a battery backup for all customers,” she said.

But at this point it’s not, so if your phone line is now Fioptics or cable phone, make sure you have a charged cell phone in a storm; that way, you stay connected and you don’t waste your money.


“Don’t Waste Your Money” is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (“Scripps”).

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