Some NYC Lines Still Dark; Firms Turn to VoIP

Verizon's moving fast to restore the remaining NYC access lines. But repair doesn't move at the speed of business. Some firms are going VoIP to speed the process

After what a company spokesman describes as a "long, tedious process," Verizon Communications has restored service to more than 90% of the access lines cut off in the wake of the Sept. 11 destruction of the World Trade Center and surrounding buildings. Verizon says it hopes to have the remaining lines restored this month.

But the restoration process isnt happening fast enough for some business customers that have started using voice over IP as an alternative to circuit-switched lines. Businesses in some still-dark buildings on Broad Street, in the financial district, have turned to Vonage, a VoIP service provider, for help.

Vonage worked with data-services provider Everest Broadband Networks to provide VoIP service for emergency workers at the disaster site. Carlos Bhola, president of Vonage, says that "test run" for VoIP was a hit. Although he doesnt plan on using this experience as a marketing tool, he says VoIP has gained added credibility and continues to raise the stakes in efficiency and customer service.

Vonage would not name the businesses using its VoIP service.

Meanwhile, Verizon spokesman John Bonomo says the company is "very close" to repairing the remaining outages. Some 3,000 technicians have been involved in the restoration project.

Much of the restoration involves temporary fixes. For instance, Verizon continues to run cables through trenches dug into streets in the citys financial district, allowing the company to bypass and reroute service to damaged areas.