New York City Decides To Actually Pay Attention To Its Verizon Contracts After Getting Ripped Off On FiOS Deal

from the novel-ideas dept

New York City has decided to actually pay attention to city money paid to Verizon after city officials discovered Verizon’s broadband-related-promises don’t always hold up to scrutiny. As recently noted, a city audit found that Verizon’s 2008 promise to wire the entire city with FiOS fiber broadband by 2014 has only been half completed, the telco using loopholes in the language to argue that getting fiber relatively close to many apartment buildings was good enough. The audit also found Verizon was withholding FiOS from some buildings unless landlords promised broadband exclusivity, something that the FCC supposedly outlawed in 2007.

Basically, Verizon did what Verizon’s been doing for the better part of a generation now: getting special perks, subsidies and tax breaks in exchange for promises it has absolutely no intention of actually keeping. Former city leaders likely knew this; the 2008 deal was hashed out behind closed doors with then Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s office with little to no serious public input.

Moving forward the city appears to have come up with a novel idea, more closely monitoring Verizon’s other business relationships with the city:

“In a meeting at the end of June, Mayor Bill de Blasio told commissioners and agency heads they must inform the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications of all major contract negotiations with Verizon and other service providers…The de Blasio administration’s new protocol has been described by insiders as an attempt to keep Verizon from continuing with business as usual while failing to make good on its FiOS franchise commitments?or even acknowledging the shortcomings of its FiOS rollout.”

Yes, that’s right, Verizon has yet to even admit it failed in any way, making the city’s attempt to hold Verizon accountable rather difficult. What makes it even more difficult is that Verizon’s likely just adhering to an agreement its own lawyers intentionally stuffed with loopholes, ranging from clever language regarding homes “passed” with fiber versus homes “served,” to unrealistic provisions allowing Verizon to wiggle or buy its way out of obligations if certain TV and broadband uptake marks weren’t reached.

Of course reporters at the time urged the city to have a more transparent public negotiations with Verizon to avoid these kinds of caveats and were ignored. Perhaps next time the city can be bothered to heed those warnings, and other cities can use this experience as (yet another) cautionary tale when dealing with Verizon.

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Companies: verizon

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Comments on “New York City Decides To Actually Pay Attention To Its Verizon Contracts After Getting Ripped Off On FiOS Deal”

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Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Aiming at Verizon and missing the point

“Yes, that’s right, Verizon has yet to even admit it failed in any way,”

That’s because Verizon did not fail in any way.

New York City’s umbrage rings a bit hollow, when they where the party that contracted to allow Verizon to wave a chicken foot over the noodle soup and call it “chicken noodle soup”. The city-Verizon contract was nothing but a sweetheart deal that Verizon wrote and the city signed-without-reading; just like the governor in Blazing Saddles signed things, la de da de doo ain’t them nice bosoms.

Forget blaming Verizon: where’s the accountability for the city officials who let their citizens down? The city officials who failed?

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Aiming at Verizon and missing the point

Shame and punish the city officials who collided but pillory the real crooks while you are at it else the same will happen again.

Which one’s the “real crook”? Someone selling snakeoil, or the elected representative who buys it with your money while getting a bribe from the snakeoil salesman to cheat you out of your money behind your back?

Anonymous Coward says:

Any city should make its negotiation,s re broadband ,with telecom companys public, as fast broadband needs to be able to all ,
at a reasonable price ,
instead they give large tax breaks and get ripped off and the public get ripped off with less choice .
this happens time and time again .
Maybe put in a clause a review of service every 2 years ,
if service coverage is bad the contract will be cancelled and the tax breaks will be stopped and repaid .
put the contract online ,
so any loopholes can be removed before its signed .
i think the concept of public negotiations just goes,
against city policy .
all contract negotiations are secret by default .

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