Verizon Forced To Briefly Give A Damn About Its Neglected Broadband Networks

from the almost-accountability dept

Several years back Verizon paused all serious residential fiber deployment to shift its focus to slinging video ads at Millennials, an effort that isn't going all that well. While Verizon was busy attempting to pivot from stodgy protectionist telecom monopoly to sexy new media brand, one of its core legacy businesses (fixed line broadband) was simply allowed to wither and die on the vine. As such, the company has spent the last few years bombarded with complaints up and down the east coast about how it neglected repairs and upgrades across a massive swath of its telecom empire.

One one hand, Verizon's disinterest in residential broadband has resulted in a growing cable broadband monopoly as frustrated users flee to their only option for current-generation speeds. That in turn results in less competitive pressure than ever, resulting in higher prices, worse service, and the slow but steady deployment of arbitrary and punitive usage caps across the board. Meanwhile, customers on aging DSL lines who stick with Verizon face repair delays and higher prices as Verizon literally tries to drive away customers it simply no longer has a genuine interest in serving.

Despite the fact that many of these lines were taxpayers subsidized, occasionally Verizon's behavior results in something vaguely resembling a wrist slap. Case in point: after highlighting the massive state of disrepair of Verizon's network in New York, the Communications Workers of America this week managed (with the help of the NY Public Service Commission) to force Verizon to upgrade a notable chunk of its neglected networks across the state. An announcement by the CWA notes that Verizon not only has to repair neglected infrastructure, but expand real, fiber broadband in New York City:

"In a big victory for New York consumers, the Communications Workers of America has reached a settlement with Verizon that will require the company to repair 54 central offices across the state, replace bad cable, defective equipment, faulty back-up batteries, and to take down 64,000 double telephone poles. The agreement also includes increased broadband buildout to major apartment buildings in New York City and more than 30,000 homes across the state."

That last bit is of particular note, given that New York recently sued Verizon for taking taxpayer subsidies for fiber deployments only partially completed, something that's also an undeniable trend for the telecom giant. As they did in Pennsylvania, the union simply had to share photos showcasing the abysmal disrepair across Verizon's network, part of a three-year effort to hold the company accountable:

"The settlement is the result of a CWA campaign to pressure the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) to require Verizon to upgrade and repair the legacy telephone network and to expand consumer access to broadband. In 2015, CWA, 20 allied organizations, and 70 legislators filed a request for an investigation, providing substantial documentation of Verizon’s failure to maintain its copper network. In April 2016, the PSC opened a formal proceeding with extensive discovery and evidence collection. CWA and Verizon agreed to a settlement, which has been endorsed by the PSC staff. The PSC must approve the final settlement."

Granted in most states, Verizon has so much political power that complaints about failing infrastructure or subsidized-yet-unfinished deployments have been largely ignored. Verizon's response has generally been to make fun of these users, or promise them that wireless broadband will somehow make all of these concerns moot-- ignoring that the company's wireless network is more expensive, frequently unavailable, and often less robust than the fixed, taxpayer-subsidized infrastructure it's supposed to be replacing.


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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 14 Mar 2018 @ 6:07am

    So in a few years we'll be reading about a settlement that forces Verizon to do what they should have done in the previous settlement which in turn was expected in earlier tax breaks.

    Shall we start betting?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Mar 2018 @ 6:49am

    Not yet

    managed (with the help of the NY Public Service Commission) to force Verizon to upgrade a notable chunk of its neglected networks across the state.

    No, they managed to force Verizon to say they're going to upgrade their networks... which they were already legally required to do. They still haven't done it.

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

  • icon
    Oblate (profile), 14 Mar 2018 @ 7:24am

    I used to have DSL from Verizon. It was ok until Fios went in, then they clearly didn't spend another cent on DSL maintenance. I have Fios now, as do 90% of my neighbors. "Still better than Comcast" seems to be their motto. It's all installed underground here, so haven't had some of the problems experiences elsewhere. The biggest problem I've had is that the connection would die randomly, several times a day, for several minutes. Finally found the problem- their DNS server was offline. Switched everything to use Google DNS (8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4) and the problem disappeared. Given their record with DSL and Fios maintenance I'm very reluctant to trust them with wireless service.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Mar 2018 @ 7:58am

    "Current generation" is highly subjective

    as frustrated users flee to their only option for current-generation speeds

    Funny, I didn't think there was a substantial deployment of "current-generation speed" capability anywhere in the US. ;) The cable companies might not be as far behind on their upgrades as Verizon is, but they're still well behind where they would be if they had been pursuing a decent upgrade schedule for the last 15 years.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Mar 2018 @ 8:39am

      Re: "Current generation" is highly subjective

      Verizon has Fios in some areas, and 940/880 Mbit/s speeds available in newer deployments. Those are current-generation speeds (well, maybe getting a bit stale by other countries' timelines--they might be getting to 10G by the time we widely deploy this). Probably the cost is very high by foreign standards.

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

      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 14 Mar 2018 @ 10:38am

        Re: Re: "Current generation" is highly subjective

        He did say substantial. I don't call a handful of cities substantial. And even then, it's only part of the city - mainly the rich part.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    bernicestockstill (profile), 14 Mar 2018 @ 10:18am

    insidious programs

    a large number of programs that are currently freely available are aimed at hacking mobile devices and obtaining information about the owner is simply horror

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


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