Broadband

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
fiber, fios, nyc, promises

Companies:
verizon



New York City Threatens To Sue Verizon For Failure To Meet Fiber Deployment Promises

from the fool-me-twice dept

We've noted for years now how Verizon's modus operandi is to promise uniform fiber deployment to a city or state in exchange for all manner of subsidies and tax breaks, then walk away giggling to itself with the job only partially complete. This story has played out time and time again thanks to city and state contracts struck behind closed doors without public transparency, allowing Verizon to bury numerous loopholes in the contract language. Other times, Verizon can lobby to weaken oversight so that there's simply nobody left to hold Verizon accountable when it decides to laugh off the contract requirements.

In 2008, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg struck a closed-door deal with Verizon delivering all manner of tax breaks and incentives in exchange for what the city thought would be 100% deployment of Verizon's FiOS fiber optic service by 2014. Fast forward to last year, when the new city administration realized that Verizon had absolutely no intention of seriously deploying fiber uniformly across the city. This week, the city released the results of a survey it conducted that found that fiber is unsurprisingly still hard to come by:
"The city recently sampled 52,000 addresses for Fios availability, and found that outer boroughs were more likely to have access than Manhattan. For instance, 90% of Staten Island residents could likely get Fios within seven days, while the same is true for just 19% of people in central Brooklyn and 11% in upper Manhattan. About two-thirds of the more than 300 public-housing developments, which are home to more than 400,000 people, have no access to Fios, the city says.
Meanwhile, a letter from the city to the telco (pdf) complains that Verizon is in violation of at least three parts of the original agreement, failed repeatedly to deliver documentation requested during an audit of Verizon's progress, and cites at least 38,551 addresses where Verizon failed to deliver service despite order requests that are more than a year old.

Verizon, as it is wont to do, tries to spin the narrative on its head by claiming that New York City is being "adversarial":
"It is unfortunate and disappointing that the City is taking an adversarial approach to the only company that has challenged New York City’s cable monopolies,” Mr. McConville said. "The City should be working with Verizon to make choice available to more residents, not discouraging competition.”
Except Cities have every right to be adversarial with a company that has shown repeatedly that it doesn't deliver on its promises. Verizon has tried to claim that grumpy landlords are to blame for its failure to deliver FiOS evenly across the city. And while landlords can play a role in delaying some installations, reporters have subsequently discovered that the excuse just doesn't hold water and Verizon's simply not doing the work.

While it was a contract signed under a previous administration, New York City isn't blameless. Reporters at the time pointed out that the city's contract had ample loopholes and should have been negotiated in the full light of public transparency, but nobody listened. So while New York City says it's mulling a lawsuit against Verizon, that suit may run repeatedly into contract caveats carefully crafted by a company that never had any intention of uniform fiber deployment. The contract reflected this had anybody actually bothered to read it.

The amusing (or annoying) thing is that cities keep making the same deals with the proverbial devil over and over again. Philadelphia recently complained that Verizon failed to meet its obligations there as well. And While Verizon's overall FiOS deployment has been frozen, the city just struck a similar deal with Boston -- with few if any in the press bothering to note the tail of frustration and broken promises trailing miles behind the telco and its lawyers.

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  • identicon
    HaroldK, 15 Sep 2016 @ 6:46am

    Tax Breaks

    If they did not live up to the contract, even in the spirit of the thing, then the city should bill for all the back taxes. Taxes are easier to collect than forcing a company to comply. Further, enter into a new contract and get rid of the incumbent company.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2016 @ 6:57am

    What's with all this "threatening"? Do they really think Verizon is not going to call their bluff? I mean, they did the "crime" in the first place - they're not just going to say "yes, sir, right away, sir" when it comes to doing the installations now.

    So either sue Verizon already or STFU. Enough of the BS "threats" that nobody is taking seriously.

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

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 15 Sep 2016 @ 7:09am

    I do wonder how much they paid bloomberg off to give them all those juicy taxbreaks

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2016 @ 8:01am

    ...the city just struck a similar deal with Boston...

    Surely the company (Verizon) struck a deal with Boston. Unless Boston is about to start buying its Internet in from Philadelphia. That might be more successful than doing a deal with Verizon though...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2016 @ 8:01am

    ...the city just struck a similar deal with Boston...

    Surely the company (Verizon) struck a deal with Boston. Unless Boston is about to start buying its Internet in from Philadelphia. That might be more successful than doing a deal with Verizon though...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2016 @ 8:07am

    Given the trend,

    it is it is clearly premeditated. Which makes it fraud, and a criminal offense.

    The fact that they haven't been criminally prosecuted yet, suggests that the default on deliverables is engineered by both sides as quid pro quo for political donations. This makes the state officials involved, party to embezzlement.

    You'd like to regard the lack of law enforcement with disbelief. And then Comey speaks, and you absolutely know why nobody has gone to jail over this.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2016 @ 8:13am

    New York City Threatens

    So what good is a threat? We just need to treat this as nothing more than a few politicians blustering about things in a effort to get re-elected.

    Until then, nothing new, just the same old same old. NY has probably already told Verizon behind closed doors that they are not really serious, they just needed to trot this dog & pony out to make citizens feel like they are being represented.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 15 Sep 2016 @ 8:38am

    the city just struck a similar deal with Boston

    Wouldn't it be "the company" in the last paragraph? Or is another city serving Boston with FiOs?

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

  • icon
    Christopher (profile), 15 Sep 2016 @ 8:50am

    Eminent domain

    Declare it for any property that could be re-used by competitors. See how they like that.

    Then cancel the contract and open it up to Google. Watch how fast Verizon rolls trucks.

    -C

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2016 @ 9:56am

    Sue Verizon for a pittance,

    use the funds to purchase more stingrays,
    declare victory, and move on.

    Surely the sheeples won't notice the
    sleight-of-hand.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2016 @ 11:40am

    revolving door

    It would be interesting to see how many former city employees involved in negotiating these "sweetheart" contracts with Verizon are now working for Verizon.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2016 @ 6:58am

    Good stuff but you got a tad sloppy towards the end what with grammar and word choice.

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


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