Verizon has promised to wire all of New York City with FiOS by 2014, but now says they're running into resistance from landlords, some of whom tell the telco their tenants don't want FiOS. Stop the Cap
directs our attention to the fact that the company has filed a complaint
(pdf) with the New York Public Service Commission. In it, Verizon says that several landlords won't allow Verizon to install fiber systems in the buildings, preventing them from restoring phone service to some users still offline after hurricane Sandy.
In the filing, Verizon also insists that some landlords are trying to charge significant fees to install fiber-based gear:
As the Commission is well aware, Hurricane Sandy caused significant damage to Verizon’s central office and outside plant facilities in lower Manhattan. As part of Verizon's efforts to restore service in lower Manhattan after Sandy, Verizon is replacing copper facilities that were destroyed or damaged beyond repair with fiber optic facilities. These fiber facilities will enable Verizon to provide voice, broadband and cable television services to the occupants of the affected buildings. Unfortunately, many building owners in lower Manhattan have refused to allow Verizon to install fiber facilities in their buildings, thereby preventing Verizon from restoring telephone service to the tenants of those buildings.
In many cases, the building owners’ refusals have prevented Verizon from installing fiber optic facilities to some or all of the other buildings on the same city block. There are existing Verizon telecommunications customers in the affected buildings that are currently out of service due to Hurricane Sandy and the refusal of these building owners to permit Verizon to replace its damaged copper facilities with fiber optic facilities has prevented Verizon from restoring their telephone service. In some of these cases, building owners have demanded excessive compensation from Verizon to permit the installation of fiber optic facilities.
State law prohibits landlords from interfering with the install of services, so the landlords don't have a leg to stand on when blocking fiber installs or when trying to extort the telco.
It should however be noted Verizon can physically access these buildings. The telco could get those users up and running again if they were willing to simply repair the copper, but they're choosing not to do that. Not only is Verizon repairing miles of damaged copper with more resilient fiber
, as users in our forums note
, Verizon is using Sandy as a reason to pull DSL from even un-damaged homes and apartments, given the lower maintenance costs and water resiliency of fiber.
"I have spoken with many customers that are currently refusing FIOS; most of them prefer the reliability of POTS."
Still, the claims that some users don't want FiOS do have merit, even if those of us who love fiber can't understand it. Verizon insiders tell me they've been seeing lots of blowback post Sandy from users who just want the same old POTs and DSL service they've always had to work again.
"I have been working on new FIOS deployment since the storm, and with the exception of 1 day I was on copper repair tickets," one employee tells Broadband Reports
. "I have spoken with many customers that are currently refusing FIOS -- most of them prefer the reliability of POTS," the source says. That's not surprising in outage-prone areas, given FiOS only has an 8-hour voice battery backup.
Still, the source says just as many people are thrilled to be getting FiOS. Progress is sometimes not pretty, and most of these users (particularly the elderly) probably don't understand how fiber to the home (or your fourth-floor walk up) is progress.
It also should be noted that if and when Verizon hashes out their impasse with these landlords, 100% FiOS coverage remains far from certain. Verizon's contract with New York City, hashed out with Mayor Bloomberg behind closed doors, contains plenty of loopholes that allow Verizon to wiggle, dodge or buy their way out of that 100% obligation. With significantly less than 50% of the city currently covered with FiOS it's highly unlikely Verizon ever meets that goal. Landlords and Sandy will actually play a small role in missing the mark, but are sure to get the lion's share of the blame in a few years.