Last Saturday DC JwJ and CWA Local 2336 members ventured into the cold morning, equipped with clipboards and pens, surveys and signs, ready to record the stories of those tormented by Verizonâ€™s declining quality of service. The surveys, which are online at www.connect-dc.org, come at a time when the DC City Council looks like itâ€™s going to buckle to pressure from Verizon to deregulate Voice Over Internet Protocol service (VOIP) in the District of Columbia. The vote will be on February 5th.rnrnAs we stood outside supermarkets and metro stations, people came to us to tell their stories. rnQ: During the past year, have you experienced any of the following problems? Loss of phone service?rn â€œYes, 5 times this year.â€ â€œTwice so far.â€ â€œNone so far, but the yearâ€™s not over yet.â€rnrnQ: What is the longest period of time you have been without service?rnâ€œThree days.â€ â€œMore than a week.â€ â€œAt least 24 hours.â€rnrnAnd the anecdotes just kept flowing:rnâ€œDuring bad weather I always experience static. Sometimes even loss of phone service.â€rnâ€œI canâ€™t even get Verizon in my neighborhood. I had to go to Comcast.â€rnâ€œMy phone was down for 5 days and a family member had just passed away so I had to buy a phone card to help plan the funeral arrangements.â€rnâ€œThey were overcharging phone bills with no explanation as to why.â€rnâ€œThereâ€™s been a problem with the answering machine which they have not been able to resolve since Thanksgiving, and every time I call customer service it takes forever.â€rnOthers, mistaking us for Verizon representatives called out â€œI dumped you once, I ainâ€™t coming back!â€ rnrnClearly Verizon, the main VOIP provider, is not able to meet existing service quality standards for regulated phone and Internet services. In fact between 2001 and 2006 there was a 70% increase in Verizonâ€™s out-of-service intervals. During the same period, complaints rose 200%. Jim Pappas of CWA Local 2336 predicts that problems will only get worse as Verizon abandons its old copper lines in D.C. so it can focus energy and resources on building new fiber optic cable in the suburbs. â€œItâ€™s like changing from an old wreck of a car to a new one. You might be willing to keep the old wreck patched together but once the decision is made to buy a new car, how much are you willing to do to keep the old one running?â€ Verizonâ€™s VOIP service in DC will run over the same copper wires that carry the companyâ€™s phone and Internet services.rnrnThe Connect-DC coalition is calling on the City Council to take the time to conduct its own investigation into Verizonâ€™s service quality, hold hearings that include all stakeholders in determining the state and condition of Verizonâ€™s plant, facilities and service in D.C, and engage Verizon in a discussion about its plans to invest more human resources and infrastructure in DC. We need every bit of help to convince council members that companies cannot be trusted to regulate themselves! If you have had problems with Verizon in the past, take our on-line survey at www.connect-dc.org.rnrnHavenâ€™t testified before and feel a little nervous? No worries. In collaboration with DC ACORN and the Fair Budget Coalition, DC Jobs with Justice will be organizing a FREE workshop to help you prepare your testimony for the hearings. Saturday, Feb. 2nd at 2:30pm at St. James Episcopal Church, 222 8th St, NE. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org rnrnThe hearings are being held by Councilmember Mary Cheh and the Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs and will take place on Thursday, February 7, 10:00 a.m., in the fifth floor council chambers and on Saturday, February 9, at 11:00 a.m., in room 412. John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. You can testify about problems with any DC utilities, including Pepco, Washington Gas, Comcast, and Verizon.