What Billions In Subsidies Bought: The Final Map Of Verizon's FiOS Fiber

from the that-looks-kind-of-empty dept

Back in 2003, we wrote about Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg’s big bet to actually offer fiber-to-the-home for Verizon internet subscribers. Wall Street absolutely despised this move. While it was actually about offering consumers a better service (i.e., real broadband), short-sighted Wall Street folks don’t like projects that cost a lot to build. Seidenberg ignored them and pushed forward with the FiOS buildout. Of course, the second that Seidenberg retired, Verizon suddenly made it clear that it would finish its planned buildouts, but wouldn’t expand any further. That was five years ago. And, in the last few years, it’s even looked for ways to get out of the wired broadband business entirely, selling off pieces here and there, and focusing on wireless instead. Late last week, it was reported that Verizon was now nearing completion of its promised fiber buildout, and wouldn’t be doing any more. Well, some of its promised fiber buildout. The promises that it made to state officials about 100% coverage to get tax breaks and subsidies? Those it’s backed out of (without giving back the billions it got in subsidies, of course).

So? For all that effort, what did the American public get? Well, Verizon doesn’t like to show it, but here’s the map of all FiOS buildouts, thanks to the folks at Fiber For All:

There’s an awful lot of gray on that map. You can click through for a more interactive version on the Fiber for All website. To be fair, most of the focus is on areas with high population density around the NY metro area and Los Angeles. Fiber for All notes that it covers about 12% of the population, if much less geographically. And, in case you’re wondering, the blue sections are parts that Verizon sold off to Frontier, but it’s still called FiOS. Of course, there are a few others offering fiber services in different areas, from private companies like Sonic and Google Fiber to municipalities (even as Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner Cable and Comcast fought to block those).

Still, the simple fact is that if we want true broadband today, fiber is the way to go, but the big broadband players basically don’t care. Verizon used to care, but Wall Street hated the idea of investing to offer what the public wanted, and thus, that option is now gone. And that big gray map is what we have to show for it. Lucky you, if you live in one of those counties. For the rest of us stuck on pokey slow connections, well, too bad.

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Comments on “What Billions In Subsidies Bought: The Final Map Of Verizon's FiOS Fiber”

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93 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Only partially true. It shows who possibly has broadband from Verizon now that the FCC has raised the standard for what is considered broadband.

However there’s almost guaranteed to be a scattering of cable companies offering broadband that does not overlap with the Fios coverage. So it falls short, possibly well short, of who has broadband.

R.H. (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The AC who replied to you is right. I’m in one of the grey counties in Michigan and I have 60/4 service from Charter (they upgraded me from 30/4 last July when they upgraded their equipment). So, while I still have broadband service, now I only have one available option for broadband service rather than three (Frontier [6/1] and VisionQuest Wireless [12/2] are my other options).

Anonymous Coward says:

FIOS user here

IT’s very nice…

When they are NOT throttling me.

having 75/75 is worthless as fuck when they decide you should not have it at this time of the day or to this website.

Been seriously considering just saying downgrade me, I am not actually getting what I am paying for so eat my shorts bitches.

Watch… all those carries will just upgrade their 1.5 DSL lines to “Up to 25 down”… after all… you are only paying for the possibility of having your current speed you already have while never being able to achieve it!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: FIOS user here

facepalm

Really dood? Seeding will get you multiple connections from different sites, there is more than one way to throttle.

Example, I have an FTP server… a single connection never gets more than 1.5 Mbps down… I see a second come in and guess what… 1.5 each for a totes of 3 out of my bucket. The problem… the friends I am serving files too have 15+ Mbps on their end. It is damn clear that throttling is present. Just because your seeding on a different protocol nets you better results does not mean throttling is not present you nimrod!

I work in IT on the Infrastructure side of things… Take your accusation of anecdotes some where else SHILL!!

The Telco’s don’t even deny throttling and there have been more than fucking enough other efforts out there to prove what I am saying is true!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 FIOS user here

The guy that was originally wronged is the one that truly deserves the apology.

You have no reason to apologize for standing up to a punk.

Thank you for the forgiveness and I forgive you for whatever you think you did wrong, I don’t really see anything that needs forgiveness except my posts.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 FIOS user here

Well, I am not a leet infrastructure dood either. Truth is no one really is. Every one just looks good at what they do because they get to spend a lot of their time on it. And if you get to spend a lot of time on something your chances of pulling something cool off goes up. Especially if the person doing it cares a lot about what they do.

Yes, I was wrong, and I do apologize, I deserve to be called out on it.

Now, crude and insulting really needs to be tolerated even though I was certainly wrong in this context. If we decide to dismiss something just because it is rude or or insulting means we will only leave Free Speech hung out to dry, because at the end of the day… being rude or insulting in a lot of ways is up to the eye of the beholder.

Some things that insult others do not insult me. And some things that people see as rude are not seen as rude to me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 FIOS user here

Well thank you, it’s all about the points right?

Anyways… I may sound gruff, but you might be shocked that I talk like this to a lot of people. The ones that know me have figured out that I just talk admitted a little to crappy, but they know that my antics are not as serious as they sound. My own Mother complains to me the most about my uncaring and abrasive chatter. So I do admit that my mouth gets me into a lot of trouble.

If anyone tells me I hurt their feelings I usually back off and apologize. I have a lot of friends where our “male bonding” is essentially insults and aggressive behavior, but we have a lot of fun doing it too and sometimes that just bleeds over. So yea, I tend to have thicker skin than most and I do make people angry from time to time. But I try to staunch the stupidity when it gets outta hand.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 FIOS user here

Actually, you didn’t hurt my feelings. I was just letting you know. You seem like the kind of guy who may not realize it so I was trying to help. If you realized you came across as an asshole you are free to ignore anything else.

I’m not saying you’re right or wrong. Just that your method of delivery makes people hate you and ignore you no matter what facts are on your side. While you may not care about the hate (or may even enjoy it if you’re the kind of sad person that didn’t get enough attention as a child), surely you want people to listen to what you have to say and not discount you because you’re bile and vitriol are off-putting. Standing up and saying “I HAVE PROOF, YOU FUCKING SHILL!!!!1!!!ONE!!!ELEVENTYONE!!!” is much less effective than just sharing your different experiences because of how it makes people perceive you. Sure, you get your information to more people, but that’s more people that end up hating those who agree with you because of how you act.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 FIOS user here

It’s okay, I should have used better reading comprehension.

I deserved it. I have no problem with people saying bad things or being an ass about it either.

I really only have a problem with being wrong, that part is far more important to me. So I always try to pay attention when someone says I misunderstood, and will ask for clarification.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: FIOS user here

“The problem… the friends I am serving files too have 15+ Mbps on their end”

15+ symmetrical or asymmetrical? Also do they perhaps have bandwidth controls on their ends, perhaps intentionally built into their servers, to prevent one person from hogging all the bandwidth for everyone else?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 FIOS user here

That was only 1 example. I see different results per protocol, but ever test on the same protocol regardless of destination are pretty much the same.

Its not just my two friends… all FTP outgoing connections see that same cap, regardless of geo location. Sure all the peeps that download may have that same limitation but that is really asking me to believe in a seemingly impossible coincidence.

Sure there are always other factors that play into this, but since my tests remain consistent per protocol regardless of time or day, I have no choice but to believe this is all throttling of different degrees.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: FIOS user here

You’re an idiot. Slinging insults and curses. He began his post with ‘this is anecdotal’ meaning that his story was an isolated case, and could not be considered as the full story.

I’m sure you do with in IT on the ‘infrastructure side of things.’ That’s half the problem, people like you who clearly don’t understand internet architecture (1.5 Mbps down? You meant up, a typo, I’m sure. 15Mbps on each end, certainly the whole story here. Traffic definitely travels directly point to point).

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

With all of the billions we’ve paid them haven’t we paid them enough to actually take the company?

There is not the will in the private sector to do this, but they gladly gobble up any cash offered and fail to deliver on the promises. If I pay someone to build my house, and they just throw a cardboard box on the lot there are all sorts of recourses to get my money back or force them to honor the contract. Perhaps it is time we start demanding accountability with OUR MONEY. We’ve funneled billions to all sorts of providers who can’t even meet the modest goals, it is time to stop filling the trough and perhaps take some of these prized porkers to the slaughterhouse and pick up some cute new piglets who might do better than the old tired hogs.

I wonder what Google could do with a portion of the billions we’ve handed out, I’m not sure what we’d get but it couldn’t be worse.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

And all we need is a real government for and by the people who actually listened to the people who pay their wages and actually did something to improve the lives of the public, such as by following through with punishment for such companies as these who steal public money and give nothing in return….

Sadly, none of that happens to be the case today, and it was in fact the government who gave these companies your money and who did not even bother to get a return on their and your investment.

So who is really to blame here?

The Shyster Corporation whose one and only goal in life is to make more money this year than last year, by any and all means available.

The shitty self serving government that listens only to its corporate money wielding lobbyist benefactors and uses the tax-payer’s cash to do favors for friends and associates, in return for cushy jobs on Wall street when they retire.

Or, We The People, for letting this shit get so far out of hand that there is now no real recourse or any possible means to repair the damage.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 "Who is really to blame?"

Um… as Madison and Jefferson were keen to note, the shit always gets out of hand. They did all they could to slow our descent. But that we lasted only two centuries so far means that shit went out of hand fast.

Part of this is a matter of human nature, of which our models are much better now. At this point we know there are many reasons for which people will NOT stay informed and vote according to their personal best interests, a notion on which Democracy relies.

Part of it is that we’ve never done democracy before, long enough to realize that two parties isn’t enough. We could do better by tweaking the system — if those people who represent weren’t so benefited by the status quo as to rule out all changes.

But this is not the first time the merchant class has taken over government for its own greedy ends.

I’m not sure why you’re looking to blame someone. It would be like blaming Edison for not inventing the light-bulb because his fifth version didn’t work.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 "Who is really to blame?"

Well, in truth, the blame can be shared by all three in that particular scenario, however blame is not really what I wanted to determine.

My aim is to get people to actually admit that they no longer know how to control their government and that the government no longer controls the activities of the US mega-corporations.

Once that realization is admitted, it becomes obvious that the government in place is no longer “for the people” or “of the people”, and is thus, no longer truly the American Government, but simply a gang of thieves masquerading as a federal government, in order to gain access to all the wonderful tax money the US public gives away every year.

Depending on existing legal foundations will no longer solve anything, as that route is completely shut down as far as public access is concerned.

Something new has to be developed publically, installed publically and controlled publically, in order to have even a small chance of successfully ending the enemy occupation of the United States Government.

Since I have no idea what that might be, or how that can be initiated, I hope to spur others into thinking, as I have no doubt it can be done and no doubt that it can be done only by those who have realized the complete shut down of law in the USA.

The recent admission that the US Constitution has been re-interpreted for the War on Terror, without public input and in complete secrecy, should go far to awaken people to the fact that their government is rogue and has no intention of relinquishing the powers they have secretly given themselves.

Fighting fire with fire against a foe who owns the furnace and all the fuel is futile. To win this war, I think we have to fight law with law, but in that area I’m lost entirely and my only hope is the minds of others less ignorant than myself.

—-

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 "Who is really to blame?"

Heh. I’ll freely admit that the US is a corporate oligarchy, that our police is a privileged class, that corporations have completely captured the agencies that are supposed to regulate them.

Here in TechDirt prominades, I figured that those were pretty much understood. But yes, I guess we have constant inlet of new folks around.

Corporate State
Police State
Surveillance State
Torture State.

andyroo says:

Re: Re:

Maybe the government should just take the network the taxpayers have paid for and give it to a company that sees the fiber network as the future. If Verizon is more interested in wireless then remove every piece of the physical network and sell it to google for $1 with guarantees that they will use it to install fiberhoods everywhere and that they will extend the network with future investments. The money that Verizon should be forced to pay back to the taxpayers, and stop the Wall Street thieves from making any money on it.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: Success

No, the problem is that we (as voters) have allowed the telecom companies to write the state & federal laws regulating telecoms.

Naturally, they wrote the laws in a way that gives them an effective monopoly, so they don’t have to worry about competition.

Without competition, any industry is going to suck. It’s just human nature.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Success

It’s more our fault as an electorate, not so much as consumers. We often do not have enough choice as a consumer for blame there to be very big. As an electorate… we have a great deal of blame on our heads.

The elected officials set up these government entities so they can deflect blame from themselves. This behavior is so entrenched and common people do not even see it for what it is anymore.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Success

“We often do not have enough choice as a consumer for blame there to be very big.”


We often do not have enough choice as an electorate for blame there to be very big because you only get to vote for those that are ‘approved’ by the political parties and ‘backed’ financially by ‘corporate persons’.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Success

This is one blame we cannot shrug off of our shoulders. There have been more than enough opportunities for use to make sure that corrupt politicians pay. Instead we all stick to the 2 party game, much to our disadvantage. You need to shake off the idea that those are our only choices.

p says:

Re: Re: Re: Success

Other candidates are available, we’re just not voting for them in enough numbers because we’re afraid that the other guy will get in. Result: we end up voting for the candidate we hate the least.

Sooner or later we’ve got to stop pretending that this is a viable option: the Big Two parties like it this way.

Get the numbers, get the candidate in.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Success

One good idea I’ve seen brought up was to not give them the entire amount at once, but break it up into sections. They get 25% of the money/taxbreak, they build 25% of what the contract says. Once they’ve managed that, they get the next chunk, and so on.

An additional idea I would tack on to that, would be writing the contract such that failure to meet their goals will start to incur penalties, growing as time goes by as long as they are bound by the contract. If they want to drop the contract, then they are forced to refund the amount that was given to them, and until they do so the penalty keeps rising.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Well is just simple numbers. Areas of density yield more bang per buck. They are in business to make as much money as possible and then retiring with their cash and orgies till the after life.

Kinda like how the 100 mile constitution free zone comprises more than 50% of Americans because that is how many there are that live within that zone.

Ninja (profile) says:

Back in 2003, we wrote about Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg’s big bet to actually offer fiber-to-the-home for Verizon internet subscribers. Wall Street absolutely despised this move.

Wall Street would rather make 10 millions now than 10 billions in 15 years. And that’s why such kind of infra-structure has be firmly regulated.

I’d love to see the billions in taxes subsidies charged from Verizon. Part of me thinks Wall Street would comply asap. The other thinks they’d feed the dead corpse of Verizon and rack in the profits just like they did in 2008.

John Thacker (profile) says:

And, in the last few years, it’s even looked for ways to get out of the wired broadband business entirely, selling off pieces here and there,

Verizon has sold off both landline telephone as well as broadband in low density areas, along with a few cities geographically isolated from the rest of their network (former GTE areas). While it’s possible that Verizon intends to get out of the wired broadband and landline telephone business entirely, their behavior so far has been to divest rural areas.

Verizon is only a local telephone operator in a few states. They retain some of the old Bell Atlantic states– Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, plus certain of the GTE territories, in California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia.

What percentage of the country has Verizon service for their local landline company? In other words, what percentage of Verizon landline eligible customers can get FIOS? (Acknowledging that apartment buildings and the like can be tricky.)

Certainly places that were BellSouth/SouthwesternBell/the new AT&T were unlikely targets for FiOS in the first place, at least without a Verizon-AT&T merger that would dwarf even Comcast/TWC.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Of course, there are a few others offering fiber services in different areas, from private companies like Sonic and Google Fiber to municipalities (even as Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner Cable and Comcast fought to block those). “

Wow. Way to give the middle finger to the hundreds of companies who have run ftth. Unrecognized as usual.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I want him to stop ignoring the companies out there actually trying to improve this country’s infrastructure. He is doing exactly like every other media and blog outlet is doing.

Saying there are private companies like Sonic.net and Google Fiber (the attention seeking fiber-to-the-press release king and queen) and municipalities completely writes off the hard work other companies are doing. Many of these companies are actually doing this for real. Taking the real financial risks instead of it being some side hobby like it is for Google.

There are hundreds upon hundreds of companies deploying FTTH.
http://www.bbpmag.com/search.php?s0=1&cols=-co&st=&ve=&gr=&te=&se=&ty=-mun-ppr&qco=&qme=&qan=&qus=0&qmu=&qsu=&qpa=&qin=0

That list alone includes nearly a thousand companies and municipalities. And I can think of several off the top of my head that are not included in my state alone. One of which has nearly completed a full 100% ILEC fiber overbuild.

tqk (profile) says:

The elephant in the room.

Wasn’t the whole point of Wall St. to match up investment money with potentially profit generating enterprises? Instead, it’s all about dividends and share price, period.

“You’re going to waste money, that could be paid out to investors as dividends, on investing in profit generating infrastructure instead?!? Downgrade that company’s stock! Sell! Get out before it’s too late!”

How anyone can defend the stock market in this day and age mystifies me.

Bri (profile) says:

Huh, my parents live in that one little patch in Washington. Never realized how lucky they were to actually get fiber. When they first got it I was amazed at how fast it was.

HOWEVER. That was 6/7 years ago and I now live in a different place and have Charter. Whenever I go home I am shocked at how slow it is when it is supposed to be much faster then what I am getting. Don’t know what’s going on there, but I swear they aren’t getting what they paid for. It is like pulling teeth waiting for pages to load at their house when I know their internet should be faster.

ECA (profile) says:

Contracts

There are so many contracts made in the areas, and they are RESTRICTING who can do what..
That we are OWNED by the state/counties on Who paid WHO, to get the Franchises, in each area..which means..NO competition.
The only way to get past all this “WE put the lines it, WE own it, you cant use it”…Is for the gov. to install the new Fiber backbone.
This is why, all the Nations advancements have been BACKED by the gov. in the first place.

Bob Anonymous says:

FiOS Satellite Farm in Illinois, & little Midwest FiOS

Ironic that Midwest has so little FiOS, when Verizon had millions of landlines located there(after Bell Atlantic merged with GTE to from Verizon). Large parts of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio made up a huge portion of these old GTE properties. Verizon only installed FiOS in Fort Wayne, Indiana area.

BTW, 1 of the 2 Verizon FiOS satellite farms is located on west edge of Bloomington, Illinois, on former GTE property.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: The system is corrupt

More precisely (but still generally) there’s two things going on here.

1. When the bill was passed to grant the subsidy, there were no contingencies included in regards to if Verizon failed to meet the promised conditions.

2. Verizon owns (contributes generously to the campaigns of) many representatives in office, which it can cease doing at any time one of them acts to hold Verizon accountable. Verizon can also hire people for cushy jobs representatives and regulatory agents that it particularly favors.

me says:

fios

When fios was begun it was a way to get into TV and provide triple play in order to compete against cable who could offer triple play over coax. Also, compete against cable’s higher than DSL broadband speeds. Cost of content from the Disney’s, Viacom’s of the world has increased at an even faster rate than your cable bill. (reason: sports programming). And the content providers force all the crappy channels in order to get the one folks want (say, espn). What looked like a reasonable investment 10 years ago with some decent margin on the triple play doesn’t look as good now. So difficult to keep building out

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Actual vs. target

This map is very interesting, but if I’m reading the background to this right, it’s only half of the story.

How much area did Verizon’s “100% coverage” promises actually include? I get the impression that those were made to specific states, and would have extended to only those states even if fulfilled to the letter.

This map would be nicely complemented by another one showing what the coverage would look like if Verizon had, in fact, fulfilled all of the commitments they made before receiving funding et cetera.

Unless that map would just be “solid red across every state”, of course, in which case an explicit statement that Verizon really did promise 100% fiber coverage everywhere would be enough.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Greed is always a factor.

Rich folk never run out of nice things they need all their fabulous money for, and the instincts that drive us to hoard never tell us when we have enough. So greed is always going to be a factor among those with excess.

And while greed serves when you are big man in the village, it doesn’t work so well when you’re big man in the state because greedy hoarders disregard anyone who isn’t in their close circle of friends. If Ayn Rand’s letters are indicative, not even them.

It’s an important tip for the next time we try to develop a working economic model.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Money IS power.

Especially in an age where you can get people to do outrageous and sometimes really terrible things for enough money, since those of us without are so desperate for it.

I suspect (though I don’t have numbers to back my hypothesis) that much of the ownership culture that makes content creators (big and small, alike) is driven from this desperation. When we see people being a jackass about some content they allegedly own, it’s because we’ve become fighting desperate for any sofa-change we can uncover.

And whether you want someone dead or someone elected, money will get you that.

Joe V says:

I ask all of you to sign this petition regarding broadband in the United States. Most people are not aware that AT&T and Verizon want to eliminate their fixed broadband lines (copper DSL, plain old telephone systems, and fiber) by selling those unwanted networks to smaller ISPs or outright abandoning them and are going state by state to gut regulations. Out in San Mateo County, many areas are underserved or not served at all. Those that are have either AT&T or Comcast and service is very expensive, data is capped monthly with overage charging schemes. PLEASE SIGN.

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/please-bring-sonicnet?source=c.em&r_by=4516097

ECA (profile) says:

Re: and now..

Which is WIRELESS..
Which means they have top Upgrade all the existing systems And not deal with the Land lines..

AS well as creating their OWN format, insted of waiting to finalize 5G..

There is an OLD understanding about WIRED services..
THEY WORK…They can ALWAYS WORK..Look at the Phone corps did..Thru any form of weather or Earth quake, THEIR system works..
These folks are trying to make a SHORT CUT..that will keep THEM in business..No one ELSE can HAVE this wireless..no one can interfere with it or Anything..its a way to LOCK up the system..

And anyone thats dealt with Wireless, from Shortwave, FM, CB radios, walkie talkies, and soforth…can give you LOTS of reasons, wireless is going to have PROBLEMS..

#1 problem..
Security..the Old phone system HAD/HAS security from BOTH Police and CROOKS..Whirelss has allot less. For reasons..
#2..
You may not believe this, but the System ISNT fully encrypted..

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