20 June 2015

Cable Company F%$#ery, Fiber Edition

Rather unsurprisingly, much like its cable competitors, Verizon* is steadfastly refusing to do infrastructure build-outs that in promised in exchange for its getting a cable franchise:
New York City officials today ordered Verizon to complete fiber builds that the company was supposed to finish a year ago. If Verizon doesn't comply, the city can seek financial damages.

"In a 2008 agreement with New York City, Verizon committed to extend its FiOS network to every household across the five boroughs by June 30, 2014," said the announcement of an audit released today by the city's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT).

Verizon's FiOS fiber network delivers Internet, TV, and phone service to areas traditionally served by Verizon's copper landlines and DSL Internet.

“Through a thorough and comprehensive audit, we have determined that Verizon substantially failed to meet its commitment to the people of New York City,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “As I’ve said time and again, Verizon must deliver on its obligation to the City of New York and we will hold them accountable.”

The agreement, which gave Verizon a cable television franchise, says NYC may "seek and/or pursue money damages" from Verizon if it fails to deliver on its promises.

Verizon also failed to meet broadband promises in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, but those states let the company off the hook.

Verizon is disputing New York City's findings. Verizon met the requirement to pass all households with fiber, though not all residents can actually buy fiber service, the company says. Verizon last year blamed landlords for delays. It also blamed Hurricane Sandy from October 2012, even though Verizon was still claiming to be "ahead of schedule" in April 2013.


Verizon further said that "it is important to note that it’s not a mere coincidence that the report is made public today, and labor negotiations with our largest union begin on Monday. It’s well known the union has ties to the city administration, and things like this are a familiar union tactic we have seen before." The Communications Workers of America union has blamed Verizon's fiber shortcomings on job cuts.

Verizon has also called complaints about its landline maintenance "meaningless rhetoric and hyperbole from the unions."

The city's audit report said refusal of access by landlords cannot explain the full extent of Verizon's failure to bring fiber to all residents. Property managers interviewed by the city said Verizon has refused to extend service to buildings unless the company was granted exclusive agreements that would shut out other providers.
If the contract allows for pulling the franchise, I would like to see that.

If it doesn't, use eminent domain to purchase the fiber infrastructure, and get the money for it from Verizon's fines.

In a perfect world, of course, Verizon executives would be invited (compelled) to participate on that classic game show, Ow! My Balls!, but I will take what I can get.

What the free market mousketeers refuse to understand about this crap is that companies make more money from maintaining a monopoly and shutting out other competitors, so the free market will not lead to competition and lower prices.

*Full disclosure, I am a relatively satisfied (monopoly rents make them too expensive) Verizon FIOS® customer.


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