MANTOLOKING, New Jersey (CBS) - Here could be another casualty of Superstorm Sandy. Verizon says it won't replace traditional phone lines damaged by the disaster. The solution is leaving some feeling disconnected.
Walter Veth hasn't had a phone line inside his home since Superstorm Sandy blasted Mantoloking, New Jersey over eight months ago. He says, "I assumed telephone service would be one of the easiest services to install that we would have service."
But Verizon, the company who owns the phone lines, has decided not to replace the copper wire infrastructure that once provided Veth, and hundreds of other residents with a landline.
When sandy hit phone lines like this one were snapped, others underground were flooded out. For 855 homeowners that meant the end of hard line phone service as they knew it.
Instead, Verizon is offering customers an alternative system called a 'voice link', a home phone service that runs on a cellular network.
But Veth, like many other residents, is hesitant to have the system installed saying the service is unreliable and is incompatible with his home security system and fax machine.
Tom Maguire is the Verizon executive in charge of operations. He says that all-digital land lines are the wave of the future. He says, "I think that the bigger question is not whether copper will be physically out there, but whether anyone will really care if it's really out there or are they going to be using other technologies to communicate with their friends and relatives."
Maguire insists that the voice link technology being offered to homeowners comes with the same capabilities as a traditional landline, including access to emergency services and security systems.
But advocacy groups like the AARP oppose Verizon's plan, saying more research needs to be done before abandoning the land line. Beth Finkel, director of AARP New York says, "If you can't pick up the phone and dial zero and get an operator, and you can't use your life alert system, and you can't use your home security system and there's a burglar at your door, those are basic necessities. We need to make sure there are consumer protections in place."
If state legislators put a stop to Verizon's plan, the company will have no choice but to restore its copper lines.
But if the plan is approved, land lines that have existed for over a century could soon become a thing of the past.