After Ripping Off Cities, States For Years, Verizon Makes Some Familiar Broadband Promises To Boston

from the fool-me-sixteen-times,-shame-on-me dept

We’ve long discussed how Verizon has a bit of a pattern of getting billions in tax breaks and subsidies in exchange for fiber broadband it only half deploys. State after state, city after city, Verizon gets politicians to sign off on cozy deals that effectively give Verizon everything it wants — in exchange for promises of “full” city or state fiber broadband deployment. Except time, and time, and time again, cities that signed these sweetheart, loophole filled deals then stand around with a dopey look on their face when they realize they’ve been had.

Fast forward to this year, when Verizon surprised everybody by announcing that it would finally deliver FiOS to Boston, one of more than a dozen cities Verizon left hanging when it stopped seriously upgrading its fixed-line network — to apparently focus on gobbling up failed 90s internet empires. The announcement crows that the $300 million dollar deal will absolutely revolutionize the city of Boston’s telecom infrastructure:

“Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced a new partnership with Verizon to make Boston one of the most technologically advanced cities in the country by replacing its copper-based infrastructure with a state-of-the-art fiber-optic network platform across the city. The new network will offer enormous bandwidth and speeds. Through an investment of more than $300 million from Verizon over six years, this change will bring increased competition and choice for broadband and entertainment services in Boston, and support the ongoing efforts to spur innovation and economic opportunity in all neighborhoods.”

This announcement was quickly translated by the press as “FiOS is coming to the entire city,” though if you look more carefully at the language it becomes clear that Verizon isn’t actually promising that:

“This will be a fiber platform across the entire city,? Verizon Wireline Network president Bob Mudge said at an event at the Bolling municipal building in Dudley Square Tuesday. ?This is not just about a fiber investment ? that?s important, and it?s a fuel. But the fire and the excitement will come from the applications.?

If you study the release it’s actually pretty ambiguous as to what Boston gets out of the deal. What’s actually happening? Verizon struck a $300 million deal with the city that will deliver a combination of fiber, wireless service, fiber backhaul for wireless towers, and Verizon’s internet of things technologies. Much of this is stuff Verizon already planned to spend money on (especially wireless backhaul), and a sizable chunk of it (especially on the IOT front) may or may not actually wind up actually benefiting anybody, as the mindlessly over-hyped IOT is wont to do.

How much actual last mile fiber is left utterly ambiguous. Learning lessons from failures of the past, Verizon isn’t getting specific, though speaking on an earnings call this week Verizon made it pretty clear most of these connections will be fifth generation (5G) wireless:

“I think of 5G initially as, in effect, wireless fiber, which is wireless technology that can provide an enhanced broadband experience that could only previously be delivered with physical fiber to the customer,” McAdam said. “With wireless fiber, the so-called last mile can be a virtual connection, dramatically changing our cost structure.”

And while 5G wireless should be faster with lower latency than existing 4G connections, it’s not truly going to be a substitute for traditional fiber. The 5G standard itself hasn’t even been agreed upon yet, and most analysts don’t believe 5G will see serious deployment any time before 2020. There’s also a matter of cost: while Verizon FiOS is uncapped, Verizon Wireless service is capped, metered, and among the most expensive in the country, and 5G will be no exception. It’s a $300 million investment, yes, but what it’s being invested into isn’t really clear.

But good news! Whatever mish-mash of half-promises Verizon is delivering this time may be coming soon to your city, states the telco:

“We will create a single fiber optic platform that is capable of supporting wireless and wireline technologies and multiple products,” McAdam said. “In particular, we believe the fiber deployment will create economic growth for Boston and we are talking to other cities about similar partnerships.”

Most reporters covering Verizon’s plans can’t be bothered to note Verizon’s long history of not delivering what it promises, or the multiple hearings ongoing in several different states trying to hold Verizon accountable for that fact. Fast forward several years from now, and you’ll likely find Boston (and any other cities excited to “partner” with Verizon without reading the fine print) complaining that Verizon delivered only a small fraction of what was actually promised. You’ll also find a media incapable of tying all of these narrative threads together.

Still, on a positive note it’s great to see Verizon spending anything at all on cities it has been neglecting for the better part of a decade, given this was the same company that claimed net neutrality would kill all telecom investment dead in the water.

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Comments on “After Ripping Off Cities, States For Years, Verizon Makes Some Familiar Broadband Promises To Boston”

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Anonymous Coward says:

as the mindlessly over-hyped IOT is wont to do.

It should not be the Internet of things, but rather the home network of things, or the city net of things, or the private network for utilities or city/state management. Above all else these network of things should not be directly connected to the network, but only via gateways controlled by the owners of the things.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The Citizens were not short changed either. They got just exactly what they voted for.

I am tired of people saying poor fucking citizens.

The ignorant as fuck and cry baby citizens are at the very root of the problem. They will do something about it when they wise up and get tired of it, until then… they are at fault and have no one to blame but themselves.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

If you don’t know, it will not help to tell you.

It’s so damn obvious that if you have not figured this out yet, it is clear you are intentionally blinding yourself.

“Every country has the government it deserves.”

~Joseph de Maistre

The citizens are NEVER blameless!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

No it means that a cogent argument is beyond their mental faculties. It means, that regardless of what I say, it will be ignored or misunderstood.

In order for truth to count when it is told, an ear willing to hear it must be present. I said he was blinding himself, implying that I called them stupid is different.

It could potentially be pearls before swine as well. They will only be trampled underfoot on their way to trample all over me.

Truth is hated above all other principals!

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

John, what I think he means is that citizens have a responsibility to inform themselves as much as possible about who their representatives are and what they get up to. This will then enable them to make informed choices as to who does the best job in office.

Few, if any of us, ever bother to do that.

AC, With civics not being taught in schools any more (as far as I know) it’s difficult for people to know where to even start to hold their representatives to account or how the system is supposed to work. I think this is intentional.

I know there are websites that hold information on who our representatives are and how to get hold of them, but is there one that does the job of civics classes, i.e. explain how democratic institutions such as local, state, and national government is supposed to work?

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

You must be one of them Red team or Blue team is always right and everybody else is wrong, even when they swap positions. The problems that you cannot vocalize are that there ARE teams and money buys team winners and functions to insure they remain in positions the team wants them in. That money…AKA graft.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

The citizens are NEVER blameless!

And yet the politicians are?

You may not realize this but most people are incapable of seeing the future and/or being able to listen in to the backroom deals involved with this sort of thing, so it’s only when it’s a done deal that the public is finally able to find out just how they’ve been screwed.

‘Vote for someone better the next time then!’ I hear you say, to which the response is great, nice idea, now what happens when the next guy is voted in and finds out that yeah, contract the previous person agreed to means they’re stuck, they can’t do squat unless they want to trigger massive penalties?

Or they find out that hey, the ones who wrote this contract are much more generous than what they get from serving the public, and since the public can at worst only replace them every few years, and being ‘fired’ will likely lead to a lucrative ‘retirement’ offer if they make themselves valuable enough to the ones buying politicians, the public can get bent?

Stop tripping over yourself to blame the public for not knowing the future, and start applying that blame to those actually responsible and who know full well what they’re doing, the politicians.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

The future is easy to tell, just look at history. It gets repeated with people like you.

You hate the fact that I am right about citizens never being blameless and attack the messenger. I am not the one that brings blame, we all bring it upon our self. I am just informing those looking to escape blame, that there is no escape.

Additionally, I never said politicians are blameless. But I can say with 100% certainty that politicians are blamed too much. Yes, they lie day in and day out, but the people that sit in those chairs are our responsibility. If they keep doing this, it is because we keep letting them.

The citizens, the group of cowards that refuse their liberties while decrying the tyranny visited upon them by men they give it all away too! What manner or sanity is this? To abdicate your responsibilities while simultaneously holding others to theirs! This is not sanity, it is hypocrisy… a mental disease of people that refuse the recognition of their own hand in these things!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

The future is easy to tell, just look at history.

Awesome, so you should have no problem whatsoever telling me ahead of time which promises a given politician will and will not uphold, what they’ll do should they be elected that differs from what they claimed they would do, how the influence of the system will affect their actions in specific way and so on.

It gets repeated with people like you.

Oh by all means, feel free to explain just what kind of person you think I am that leads you to make such a statement.

You hate the fact that I am right about citizens never being blameless and attack the messenger.

Nice strawman there, make sure to keep it away from open flames.

Citizens have some blame, but when the system itself is corrupt barring extreme actions there’s only so much that can be done, with ‘vote better next time’ coming in towards the bottom of the list.

I am just informing those looking to escape blame, that there is no escape.

No, you seem to be more interested in shifting the blame from those that actually do something to a group for not being able to tell the future, and who are working with an extremely corrupt system that makes changing things just a wee bit more difficult than ‘Vote for the right person next time’.

But I can say with 100% certainty that politicians are blamed too much.

Complete and total crap. It doesn’t matter if people aren’t voting in the ‘right’ people, politicians are still responsible for their own actions, unless you are going to claim that somehow the public is forcing them to screw over the public for personal gain? You seem to have no problem blaming the public for not being held responsible for their actions, while putting for the idea that politicians aren’t responsible for their actions.

For all the claims of personal responsibility on the part of the public you sure don’t seem to think that politicians should be held to much if any.

What manner or sanity is this? To abdicate your responsibilities while simultaneously holding others to theirs!

Like, oh I dunno, saying that people get the government they deserve, ignoring the question of how the citizens are to blame when the politicians lie and act contrary to how they claimed they would act? How the citizens are to blame when the government lies to them and hides it’s actions, and it basically requires a whistleblower willing to sacrifice their career and often liberty for the public to know what’s being done by their own government?

No really, continue to blame the citizens for not being able to tell the future and not being informed when they’ve been deliberately kept in the dark.

Berenerd (profile) says:

I would be curious on how they plan on getting past the LOS issues they have there. If you are in the heart of Boston, you are lucky to get signal, buildings have to buy cell repeaters and install them into the building to get most of them to work and Verizon charges a pretty penny for them. And this wont be seen by the residents, it will only be for businesses if at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I think it is fair to say that there is no con activity going on. It’s only a Con when someone actually stops doing business with them and starts a lawsuit instead.

You need to start looking at this for the reality that it is. The citizens pay off Verizon for Verizon paying off the City, the city agrees to the bastard deal for “reasons” and the citizens do nothing, so they obviously are okay with it. They are just too lazy to do anything other than run their filthy pie holes over the deal, then turn around and sign up for service.

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