Verizon denies redlining, says their focus is simply elsewhere...
With the exception of major cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC (where Verizon has signed citywide franchise agreements), Verizon's first $23 billion wave of fiber to the home installs are pretty much done
. Verizon has stopped negotiating new franchises, and are trying to beef up subscriber counts in installed markets. There's been no mention of a next wave of deployments -- so if your neighborhood didn't get FiOS the first go round, you may be waiting for some time. But you're not alone.
Baltimore residents and several members of the Baltimore city council are rather annoyed that their city wasn't deemed worthy of a place on Verizon's FiOS priority list. Locals complain to the Baltimore Messenger
that Comcast has a lock on what passes for competition in the city, and that Verizon's avoiding deployment. Verizon has repeatedly since 2005
) denied accusations that they "redline" (or pick installs based on income or race), and sent this explanation to the Messenger
Verizon is not deploying FiOS in Baltimore City or in any other new areas in Maryland or across the country at this time because we're now focused on delivering our FiOS services in those communities where we already have approved cable franchises and where we already have begun to build our FiOS network," said spokeswoman Sandra Arnette. "We have extensive deployment obligations in several states and are working to fulfill them."
Verizon gets more definitive when asked if they're redlining:
"Race, ethnicity and income are never factors in this decision," she said in her e-mail. "Verizon does not redline. We never have and never will. It's illegal, immoral and counter to our century-old legacy of providing good service to Baltimore residents. Our commitment to diversity is evident in many communities where FiOS is now offered, such as Dundalk, Essex, Glen Burnie, Milford Mills, Randallstown and Woodlawn."
So what does
go into Verizon's decisions of who gets FiOS? Verizon has never been willing to say, but it's likely a long list of factors are considered, and it would be unlikely those don't include some fairly granular social and economic analysis when trying to project timelines for a return on their investment. Verizon also has a bit of a history of playing hardball with local regulators, threatening to withhold network upgrades from towns or cities who do things Verizon doesn't like (like making them pay property taxes
, or failing to support the passage of laws Verizon's lobbying for on the state level).
Primarily though, Verizon's looking at installation logistics in each market they consider for FiOS. For a while Verizon avoided urban areas because of apartment complex installation issues, instead focusing on more suburban markets. But with the development of smaller networking gear designed for apartments
and bendable fiber
, those issues have largely been overcome -- but only in the last few years. In cities like New York, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg says their primary obstacle now is dealing with apartment landlords and incumbent cable providers
We're all curious about what Verizon does next in terms of FiOS, especially as the carrier continues to sell off less profitable markets
and shift their focus to LTE wireless service. FiOS currently passes (and that means the fiber gets close
, but doesn't necessarily serve) about 15.4 million homes, or roughly 48% of Verizon's service markets. Penetration in those markets is about 28% for broadband and 24% for TV, numbers Verizon's CEO has stated he'd like to see closer to 40% before moving forward with FiOS. More than half of Verizon's customers (including Baltimore) are waiting.