NEW YORK, October 13, 2015 – The battle between Verizon Communications and the Communications Workers of America escalated on Tuesday, as the union announced a new television advertisement slamming the broadband provider for failing to build-out its high-speed fiber-optic internet service here.
The advertisements come just ahead of a New York City Council hearing on Wednesday that will include the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio, customers that say they have been unable to get FiOS, and from Verizon officials.
The CWA ad highlights the city’s June audit of Verizon’s FiOS build. The audit concluded that “Verizon is not in compliance with its agreement since it has not truly ‘passed’ all residential households in New York City.”
In a response to the audit, Verizon disputed the city’s conclusion. It said that it was in compliance with the terms of its 2008 franchise agreement with the city.
“The term ‘pass’ is not defined in the Agreement,” Verizon wrote in its response. “Thus, there is nothing inherent in the word itself that would require Verizon to run cable directly in front of every building in the City in order to ‘pass’ those buildings.”
“Verizon should stop breaking promises to its employees and its customers,” said Bob Master, assistant to the president of CWA district one. “Customers want FiOS and our members want a contract that maintains family-supporting jobs.”
“The fact is that Verizon continues to expand FiOS cable television services in New York City and wins new customers every day,” said Verizon spokesman Richard Young. “As of today, it’s available to more than two million New York City households and that number is increasing daily. The truth is that Verizon has deployed fiber in every City neighborhood – and that’s unlike any other communications company serving the city.”
“The union’s true goal behind this ad campaign is to try and force the company to hire more employees,” he added.
Tensions over the deployment of fiber-optic service by Verizon aren’t limited to New York City. On October 1, the mayors of 14 major cities on the east coast, including Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Newark, Jersey City, Buffalo and Syracuse, wrote a tough letter to Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam.
“As mayors, we understand firsthand how vital broadband is the growth of our local economies and to nurturing a healthy, competitive marketplace in our state. Our residents use the internet to search for jobs, build home-based businesses, educate their children and engage in the civic life of our cities.”
“But consistently and increasingly,” the mayors continued, “our consumers have complained that FiOS service is not available to them. These are not isolated complaints – there are millions of residents in communities throughout the Northeast who have been left without service, and with no plan or promise for future resolution.”
Additionally, in August Verizon was the only major U.S. telecom company to decline federal moneys under the universal service fund to build broadband in unserved and rural areas. It had been offered $568 million over six years to do so.
Verizon has also declined to tap into New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $500 million New York Broadband Fund, which offers 50 percent subsidies for companies building broadband in underserved areas.
Drew Clark is the Chairman of the Broadband Breakfast Club. He tracks the development of Gigabit Networks, broadband usage, the universal service fund and wireless policy @BroadbandCensus. He is also Of Counsel with the firm of Best Best & Krieger LLP, with offices in California and Washington, DC. He works with cities, special districts and private companies on planning, financing and coordinating efforts of the many partners necessary to construct broadband infrastructure and deploy “Smart City” applications. You can find him on LinkedIN, Google+ and Twitter. The articles and posts on BroadbandBreakfast.com and affiliated social media are not legal advice or legal services, do not constitute the creation of an attorney-client privilege, and represent the views of their respective authors.