News tagged: Verizon FiOS
Earlier this year we noted how some New Jersey residents have been complaining that Verizon never delivered the 45 Mbps to 100% of the population the company promised back in the 90's
as part of an agreement with the state. Verizon (then Bell Atlantic) was given billions in tax deductions in exchange for fixed-line broadband the company never delivered. We saw something similar in Pennsylvania when Verizon wiggled their way out of similar obligations after netting huge tax reductions and subsidies
Like in Pennsylvania, New Jersey also decided to let Verizon off the hook; the state Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) recently approving a stipulation agreement that effectively forgot that Verizon ever made any such promises as the company effectively freezes FiOS expansion to focus on wireless.
Annoyed residents have since been complaining to the Public Service Commission, arguing that the telco has intentionally letting DSL and POTS service get worse as Verizon eyes those greener pastures. Hopewell Township residents filed a number of complaints with NJ's board of public utilities in a letter last month
In the letter to the BPU, township Solicitor Ted Ritter requested that Verizon be ordered to repair or replace the township's "deteriorating and unreliable telephone service lines."...On Thursday, the township sent a summary report to the BPU, which included 156 "serious" and "chronic" telephone service complaints that the township compiled from residents over the last three months....Ritter said Hopewell Township has been “barraged for years” with complaints from residents like, “line noise, static, crackling, buzzing, and intermittent service outages often associated with bad weather."
Verizon has since responded
, claiming that New Jersey copper line complaints have actually declined since 2012:
“Hopewell residents reported significantly fewer landline service issues to Verizon in 2014 than in 2012, representing a 38-percent decrease in the number of trouble tickets over that period,” wrote Gregory M. Romano, general counsel for Verizon’s mid-Atlantic region. "In fact," the letter added, "our monthly customer trouble report rate — the best overall indicator of network reliability — has averaged .3 troubles per 100 access lines from 2012 to 2014 in the wire center serving Hopewell.
Of course Verizon's been actively trying to drive many of these unwated POTS and DSL users away
for several years through a combination of price hikes and apathy, so it's likely many of these areas have substantially fewer customers than they did in 2012 (and many customers may have given up calling to fix line noise). Meanwhile, locals argue, had Verizon actually delivered on the fiber upgrades they promised (and were paid for by taxpayers) a generation ago, the current conversation wouldn't be happening.
Earlier this month a blog post by Verizon indicated that Verizon would sue
the FCC if the agency tried to pass anything other than the flimsy, Section 706 rules the FCC already tried to implement once. As noted at the time
, Verizon would prefer it if readers of their missives ignore that it was Verizon that sued to overturn the FCC's original Section 706 rules, bringing us to the current Title II debate in the first place.
Verizon has agreed to pay $1.37 million to settle an investigation into the company's FiOS billing practices in Maryland. According to the The Baltimore Sun
, the settlement settles a six-year investigation into misleading Verizon promotions (like those televisions the company had a hard time ponying up years back
) incorrectly charged early termination fees, and instances where Verizon failed to adequately outline equipment fees. "Verizon's activities when it was rolling out FiOS established it as one of our office's biggest complaint generators," Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said in a statement. "I'm pleased that Verizon is changing its marketing practices to accurately reflect the total cost of its services and that a significant number of consumers will receive restitution as a result of this agreement."
As noted previously, Verizon's FiOS expansion has been over for several years
, with the exception of franchise build out promises for major cities (though some of those deployment promises, like in NYC, probably won't be met
). Still, some of the forgotten regions in Verizon's footprint (like Alexandria, Baltimore, Buffalo & Boston) continue to hold out hope that the company will eventually decide to extend FiOS a little bit further.
While consumer advocacy groups and the EFF have been far from impressed
, so far the mega-ISPs had yet to comment on the FCC's leaked proposal to take a "hybrid
" approach to net neutrality rules. That approach would leave residential broadband connection classified as is to avoid a legal skirmish, while classifying the connections between ISPs and edge providers like Netflix as "information services" under Title II.
Verizon's ActionTec routers have never been what you'd call cutting edge
, the company taking an extraordinarily long time to even offer 802.11N Wi-Fi functionality (and when they finally did, only offering 2.4Ghz). The company is making some significant strides in being more cutting edge with this week's release of the company's new FiOS Quantum Gateway, which will provide significantly faster speeds than older gear.
It's pretty clear at this point that while consumers complain a lot about high cable prices, it's really not driving consumers away from traditional cable on a grand scale. While this won't be the case long term, users appear to be willing to pay a lot of money and even tolerate bi-annual rate hikes -- if they're treated relatively well. story continues..
While Netflix and Verizon have sparred over poor (but now improved
) streaming performance to the point of threatening lawsuits
, that disagreement only appears to go so far. In a research note BTIG Research
(registration required) indicates that Verizon is now offering new FiOS customers a $150 VISA prepaid gift card and a free year of Netflix service if they sign up for the FiOS triple play. It's an interesting move given the animosity many larger cable operators have had toward something they see as a competitor (while Netflix insists they're just a supplement to traditional cable and a competitor to services like HBO).
: Verizon reached out to me to note that this is a trial offer currently only being made available in the New York City market, and is only running from 10/22-11/1.
Verizon's latest earnings
were released this morning, the company seeing a net income of $3.79 billion on revenue of $31.6 billion. While Verizon slightly missed Wall Street estimates, competition from T-Mobile didn't dent big red much: the company added 1.5 million wireless customers in the third quarter, 1.1 million of which were tablets.
Netflix's latest ISP streaming performance rankings
continues to show specific and pointed improvements for companies that have struck interconnection deals with the company. Both Netflix
have accused AT&T, Verizon and Comcast of intentionally leaving peering points un-upgraded to force content companies like Netflix to pay them for direct interconnection to bypass these intentionally congested links.
If you recall, Verizon worked very closely with Google and AT&T To craft the FCC's first set of net neutrality rules. As we discussed at length at the time
, the rules by design were jam-packed with loopholes allowing all manner of anti-competitive behavior, just as long as companies dressed it up with faux-technical justifications (something Verizon's quite good at
Back in 2012 Verizon and RedBox proudly joined forces to launch
the creatively-named Redbox Instant by Verizon
, which was supposed to be a significant competitor for Netflix. This year however reports began to emerge that the service wasn't doing very well
, and I've noticed that Verizon hasn't worked very hard to promote the partnership.
Users in our forums
note that Verizon has started pushing out a new software update for the company's FiOS TV set top boxes that again significantly revamps what was already one of the more popular guides in the industry. Users in the thread offer up numerous images illustrating the graphical changes in IMG 1.9.7, which an insider says is being deployed currently only on Cisco and Motorola boxes starting today in New York and Pennsylvania.
The cable companies that pioneered cable television continue to flounder in JD Power and Associates' latest TV customer satisfaction survey. According to the latest results from the firm
, DIRECTV and Verizon FiOS (738) tied for top honors in TV customer satisfaction in the East region; AT&T U-verse (750) ranks highest in the North Central region; Verizon FiOS (751) ranks highest in the South region; and DISH Network (739) ranks highest in the West region.
Back in July Verizon announced
that the company would be making all of their FiOS tiers symmetrical, a move that was specifically aimed at cable operators struggling to keep upstream speeds on par with fiber offerings. Verizon this week took this same fight to cable operators on the small business side, announcing that they're now bumping the upstream speeds for business customers as well. According to the company announcement
, the upgrades should happen automatically for "nearly all" of the company's FiOS business customers.
Baltimore is one of a number of cities that Verizon skipped over when deploying FiOS
, leaving most city residents with only the uncomptitive option of either sluggish Verizon DSL or Comcast (if they're lucky). They're also one of the countless cities who begged for Google Fiber attention to no avail.
Baltimore's now hoping to take matters into their own hands, and have hired a consultant to explore
a number of possible ideas ranging from reworking their protectionist citywide franchise agreement with Comcast, to possibly building some or all of the kind of network nobody else wants to:
"Baltimore is still in the exploratory stages of the initiative but the city will likely build out some of its own fiber infrastructure that it will use to lure new competitors to the area. Jason Hardebeck, the executive director of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council, tells the Business Journal that the city may also consider making its own municipal Wi-Fi network that will be run more like a public utility."
Of course paying a consultant $157,000 is certainly no guarantee anything gets accomplished, but it's interesting how the one-two punch of Google Fiber and Wheeler's criticism of state protectionist broadband law
has seriously reheated a subject that for a decade had largely flown under the radar.
Verizon today reminded us in a press release
(and a video, below) that the company's FioS initiative is officially ten years old. The company refreshingly bucked timid industry trends a decade ago, then CEO Ivan Seidenberg bullishly spending $24 billion on fiber to the home services that offered unheard-of speeds with no usage caps of any kind.
It's fairly obvious that Google Fiber's entry into the broadband market has made significant waves. While the actual deployments have been limited (with only just Kansas City significantly online just yet), the service's very presence has rekindled debate over the abysmal state of broadband competition in the United States. story continues..
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