We've often discussed how with the exception of several major cities like New York, Washington DC and Philadephia (and any other areas where pre-existing franchise obligations are being finished), Verizon's FiOS expansion is essentially over
. That has resulted in a significant number of markets suddenly wondering why they weren't good enough for consideration, including Boston, Alexandria, Virginia
, Baltimore, Maryland
and Wilmington, Delaware
Buffalo, New York is also on that list, and city leaders and a group called "Don't Bypass Buffalo," continue to suggest Verizon of redlining -- or limiting network upgrades along racial lines. Verizon continues to insist it's simply a matter of choosing cities that give the company the best return on its investment. This week the group, sponsored in part by labor unions, issued a letter
(pdf, via Buffalo Rising
) urging state and federal regulators to investigate Verizon for redlining. From the letter:
We the undersigned legislators and groups are asking state and federal agencies to investigate possible racial and economic discrimination by Verizon in relation to the deployment of its fiber optic network and the provision of its FiOS phone, Internet and TV services. The Verizon decision to exclude the City of Buffalo from its fiber network and FiOS services reflects a separate and unequal digital divide between City and suburban residents.
Verizon has never publicized all of the data that went into their decision-making process for the first wave of FiOS and never will. There's likely dozen of economic, geographic, regulatory and financial considerations that were made, but outright racism seems unlikely given the fact that several more affluent suburbs in most of these excluded cities also aren't seeing upgrades.
It's still not clear what happens to many of these communities stuck on DSL. Verizon may someday continue the FTTH upgrades, or they may someday explore less-expensive VDSL solutions for these communities. Verizon's already sold off their New England markets to Fairpoint and numerous other markets to Frontier, so the sale of additional markets is also likely.