The Register Verizon promised to wire up NYC with fiber...and failed miserably - audit by Iain Thomson

The Register
Verizon promised to wire up NYC with fiber...and failed miserably - audit
Iain Thomson
06/18/2015

New York City authorities have thumped Verizon for apparently reneging on its promises to wire up the Big Apple with super-fast fiber internet.

In 2008, the city signed a deal with Verizon in which the telco promised to give every resident access to a fiber-optic broadband connection by July 2014. In return, the city reduced the regulation of commercial cable coverage, and allowed Verizon to raise its rates by $1.95 per month to pay for the rollout.

Many New Yorkers are still waiting, according to an audit [PDF] published on Thursday by the city's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. The report claims multiple broken promises from Verizon have left the city's networks still painfully slow in many places.

"Through a thorough and comprehensive audit, we have determined that Verizon substantially failed to meet its commitment to the people of New York City," said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"Broadband is a key component of this Administration's fight to create opportunity and sustainable economic development in every corner of the five boroughs. As I've said time and again, Verizon must deliver on its obligation to the City of New York and we will hold them accountable."

The audit found that Verizon claimed to have wired up networks when the necessary equipment to deliver connections for homes hadn't been installed; didn't respond to requests for connections within the required six month time limit (and 75 per cent of potential customers wait over a year for a response); and that Verizon has delayed handing over key data for months for the audit.

"We would have universal broadband in New York City, if only Verizon had kept its promise to provide universal fiber to every home, as was required by the 2008 franchise agreement. Countless New Yorkers have tried to get fiber in their homes only to be told it was 'unavailable,' and I know because I am one of them," said council member Ben Kallos.

"Mayor de Blasio's administration's shocking audit shows that Verizon did not deliver on its word to do just that, stalling the city's modernization for years. Now, I join the Mayor and advocates to strongly call on Verizon to do what is right and make good on its promises so that all New Yorkers can access Fiber Internet."

The report notes that nearly a quarter of New Yorkers don’t have a home internet connection, and the packages available for everyone else are slow and expensive. Verizon's failed fiber promises have failed to alleviate this, the report states.

The city did give Verizon a six-month extension on completing the project, after the firm suffered a labor dispute and the city got hit by two tropical storms, which slowed rollout. But the audit concludes that these weren't crippling issues and the fiber network should have been completed by the start of the year.

Response

Verizon has issued a lengthy rebuttal of the New York audit: it reckons it has spent $3.5bn on the project, and has laid over 15,000 miles of fiber. It denies holding back information for the audit, and claims there is an ulterior motive for the report's release.

"It is important to note that it’s not a mere coincidence that the report is made public today, and labor negotiations with our largest union begin on Monday," a Verizon spokesman told El Reg in a statement.

"It’s well known the union has ties to the city administration, and things like this are a familiar union tactic we have seen before."

In particular, Verizon said that while it can lay fiber under the streets, actually getting it into buildings is another matter. New York City has a very high concentration of shared buildings, and in many cases landlords have the final say in how they were wired up.

The New York City government hasn’t said what it plans to do about the fiber situation in the city, and while it's possible Verizon could face financial sanctions, that looks highly unlikely. In the meantime, NYC doesn't ❤️️ Verizon. ®

Issue: 
Technology