Verizon Thinks It's A Good Idea To Mock New Jersey Taxpayers After Ripping Them Off For Years
from the so-long-suckers dept
We’ve noted a few times how Verizon has a rich history of taking taxpayer money, subsidies and tax breaks, then promising fiber deployment that never occurs. When it then comes time for local municipalities to hold the telco’s feet to the fire, campaign contributions ensure any investigation is short lived. It happened in Pennsylvania, it happened in New York City, and it recently happened in New Jersey, when state officials let Verizon off the hook for a 1993 promise to evenly deploy fiber across the state in exchange for billions in benefits.
Shortly after state officials let Verizon walk away from its obligations, they also granted Verizon exemption from regulations requiring it continue servicing DSL customers whose lines were paid for in large part thanks to billions in subsidies. As we’ve noted, companies like AT&T and Verizon are hanging up on customers they don’t want to upgrade, and forcing them instead to notably more expensive and capped wireless services. Many customers would prefer Verizon maintain or upgrade their fixed-line broadband connections, since they’ve paid an arm and a leg for them.
About fifty annoyed municipalities have now formed an alliance aimed at holding Verizon’s feet to the fire. Collectively, they’re trying to explore ways to hold Verizon accountable, require it to deliver promised upgrades, or at the very least maintain existing DSL lines until something better comes along. Verizon’s response? To mock these people as Luddites:
“But Verizon New Jersey spokesman Lee Gierczynski has called this “misplaced fear” resulting from “misinformation and misunderstanding about copper networks, fiber networks and the reliability of those networks.” “This is a classic example of how some people fear new technology so they reactively reject it instead of accepting it, no matter how irrational that fear may be,” Gierczynski said.
Except that’s not what’s happening here at all. People aren’t angry because they’re afraid of fiber upgrades, because the majority aren’t getting those upgrades. They’re angry because Verizon’s trying to shovel them to “good enough” wireless service with low caps and steep $15 per gigabyte overage fees. Like AT&T, Verizon would have you believe that having your less expensive, unlimited DSL line replaced by a hugely expensive LTE connection (you may not even be able to get) is a step into the Utopian telecom future. Verizon’s spokesman shows just how tone deaf the company is by then suggesting these folks should be mocked:
“He added: “I think people are going to look back and laugh at people … just like who were a part of the Anti-Digit Dialing League.”
Of course what people are actually going to look back on and laugh (or cry) at is Verizon’s ability to take billions in subsidies, do little to nothing with it, convince regulators to turn the other cheek to outright theft, then mock annoyed consumers when they try to complain.