Close Only Counts In Horseshoes, Hand Grenades... And (Apparently) Verizon's Fiber Optic Installs

from the semantic-ninja dept

We've been covering how Verizon has swindled a long line of states and cities into giving the company all manner of subsidies and tax breaks in exchange for uniform fiber deployment that never happens (or only partially happens). While fourteen Mayors recently wrote Verizon to complain about its dubious behavior, New York City has been the most vocal critic of late, after a June audit showed that Verizon completely failed to live up to a 2008 franchise agreement with the city promising 100% FiOS coverage to all five city boroughs by 2014. Verizon accomplished about half of that.

New York City held a hearing last week intended to hold Verizon accountable, but ran face first into a telco well-versed in semantic dodgeball. You see, by refusing to define the word "passed" in its agreements, Verizon can get away with claiming it serves a house with fiber -- provided fiber gets somewhere, vaguely close to its intended target. As it has done countless times before, Verizon leaned on this ambiguousness when trying to defend the company's behavior to city officials:
Verizon reps Leecia Eve and Kevin Service stated at the hearing that Verizon has unquestionably met its promise to "pass" all households in the five-borough area, which essentially means extending the fiber so that a building could theoretically then be connected to the network. As one councilmember pointed out, that's like installing water pipes but not hooking them up to individual apartments: the water's flowing on by, but no one can actually drink it.
But it was Verizon spokesman Kevin Service who stole the show, with some award winning tap dancing during the hearing:
"We consider it to be passed if we're within the realm of substantial fiber placement," Service said when pressed on how the term is actually defined. "I'm not a lawyer, but here's what I would say: we're passed if, when we get the request for service and have the necessary rights of way, what we have left to do does not create a delay in bringing service to that customer. Under that Kevin Service Definition, we've passed every household."
In other words, Verizon claims that all of these houses it failed to reach actually have fiber if you squint your eyes and look at it just the right way. Understandably, customers somewhere "within the realm of substantial fiber placement" probably aren't impressed by Verizon's explanation, even though the spokesman goes the extra mile and tries to bizarrely name his bullshit definition after himself. In contrast, however, New York City's full audit (pdf) found that there were 42,000 outstanding requests for FiOS installation, 75% of which were outstanding for more than a year. For many of them, the fiber "passes" their homes -- sometimes up to a mile away.

While the city now claims it's exploring its legal options, those options are likely to be limited. The previous city administration signed off on this deal after closed door negotiations, not only ignoring calls for transparency and public input at the time, but thirty years of precedent when it comes to Verizon's failure to hold up its end of the bargain.

Filed Under: broadband, close, fiber, installs, kevin service, new york city, nyc, promises
Companies: verizon


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  • identicon
    Glenn, 19 Oct 2015 @ 10:38am

    "Passed" as in, as far as providing you service, we'll pass (the exact opposite of what "pass" is supposed to mean).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2015 @ 10:43am

    'Pass' alright

    "We were all passing the bucks. You gave us dollars, we gave responsibility to someone else."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    that other person, 19 Oct 2015 @ 10:53am

    How Machiavelian of them

    The question these cities need to ask themselves is what does Verizon need from them besides our money that is.
    Does anyone from middle management on up live there.
    Know those and start pulling the same crap on them.

    Water and sewer services followed by road access and finally kill off their eelectricity if it comes that far.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 19 Oct 2015 @ 10:57am

    Say what you will about Comcast, but when I moved in to my new apartment, I went from 0 to fully-functional broadband in less than 2 days. If Verizon's got over 30,000 prospective customers who have been waiting longer than a week, much less an entire year, there's no way that counts as "not ... a delay in bringing service to that customer."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2015 @ 11:28am

      Re:

      You know, I had the same experience just a couple of weeks ago. They were prompt, friendly, and gave me my choice of time window that was only 2 hours instead of the old "They'll be there sometime Tuesday" shit they used to say. My only issue is that all of the apartments around me have wireless so there's tons of interference when I'm not directly connected and my speeds tank, but that's not their fault.

      Couple that with no caps in my area and Comcast is looking better than some of these other companies. Of course there is some actual competition where I'm currently living so that's probably why.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 20 Oct 2015 @ 9:30am

        Re: Re:

        My only issue is that all of the apartments around me have wireless so there's tons of interference when I'm not directly connected and my speeds tank, but that's not their fault.

        Have you looked for less crowded channels? Most people leave their routers on the default channels, and I think most routers use the same two or three, so there may be some less used ones you could try.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Odinson, 19 Oct 2015 @ 3:29pm

      Re:

      So I have had the complete opposite experience with comcast. Moved in current apartment almost 7 years ago and still waiting for them to "see" my building. See according to them my building doesn't exist. The building to the right, comcast services them, building to the left comcast services them but my building even after three years of trying to get service in Philadelphia and a nice neighborhood of Philly I am still told that my address doesn't exist. I had given up after about a year and a half of having their "service techs" never show up and never hearing back but my fiancee started it all over again when she moved in. That was five years ago. Still no high speed internet, using verizon dsl right now.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2015 @ 11:03am

    Retaliation

    To the extent permitted by law, the affected cities should refuse any discretionary agreements (e.g. new franchise requests) with the relevant telephone companies until the company satisfies the general public understanding of the agreement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    dave blevins (profile), 19 Oct 2015 @ 11:16am

    close ...

    Horseshoes, hand grenades, and sometimes dancing. The latter is what Verizon is doing and getting well paid for it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    lucidrenegade (profile), 19 Oct 2015 @ 11:33am

    Not that I think it will ultimately matter, but Verizon has painted themselves in a corner. If they define "passed" the way Kevin Service did, they should be able to provide service to those 42,000 people. If they can't, then, even using their definition of "passed", they have failed to meet their franchise commitment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2015 @ 11:53am

    I would sure hate to play Monopoly with Verizon. They'd claim to be passing Go on every turn.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 19 Oct 2015 @ 12:01pm

    Distance is irrelevant...

    I watched with glee as Verizon installed fiber - not only in my neighborhood, but right through my property. Their repeater was on the pole in MY yard.

    So, I called to order. "Not available in your area".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      DigDug, 19 Oct 2015 @ 7:33pm

      Re: Distance is irrelevant...

      And then you promptly went out and dug up that unknown cable that they didn't pay to pass through your property, right?

      If it's "not available" in your area then there's no reason for them to "have cable" buried in your yard now is there?

      Cut on both sides of your property, extract, pour concrete blocks on either end, and tell Verizon to fuck off.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Bergman (profile), 28 Oct 2015 @ 7:45am

        Re: Re: Distance is irrelevant...

        If Verizon has an easement, but denies any knowledge or ownership of the repeater on the pole, then obviously someone has misrepresented themselves as Verizon to steal the easement.

        Cut down the forgery and help the economy! =)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2015 @ 12:51pm

    'what we have left to do does not create a delay in bringing service to that customer'

    surely that MUST MEAN that all that has to happen is for the cable to be connected to the actual property in such a way that with a simple action of plugging the modem. router or whatever equipment is needed inside the dwelling, fiber broadband would not just be available, but damn well work!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2015 @ 1:07pm

    create a set of rules in the city , If they don't abide by them fine them daily until they comply , I'm sure the city can get creative when dealing with criminals , even if it's nickel and diming them, until they meet or move out , leaving the city ample time to roll out their own broadband while funding it through the fines.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2015 @ 4:58pm

    Could they not just sue this company for breaking their contract or levy fines against them if they want to operate in these towns/states.

    Politely asking a criminal to give back what they stole never works.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DigDug, 19 Oct 2015 @ 7:29pm

    Hey NYC... Redefine "monopoly" and

    Since we've redefined the terms "monopoly"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DigDug, 19 Oct 2015 @ 7:31pm

    Hey NYC... Redefine "monopoly" and "exclusive"

    Since we've redefined the terms "monopoly" and "exclusive".

    Then open up NYC for any other company to provide fiber internet using Verizon's fiber.

    It's only "fair" right? They redefined "passed", you redefine "exclusive" and "monopoly" and tell Verizon to go piss up a rope.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 19 Oct 2015 @ 11:19pm

    Turnabout

    It would be great if the contract had some way to return the favor for sleazy tactics like this.

    "So you argue that theoretically being able to connect a house means it's been served? Alright, we can accept that. Of course in return it looks like we only theoretically have to pay you and/or give you tax breaks for your work, so payment and/or tax breaks might be a little slow in making it through the red tape. You know how it is I'm sure."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2015 @ 11:27am

    Kevin "Service"? That a serious disservice to the meaning of service.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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