NYC Mayor De Blasio Rips Verizon For Broken Fiber Promises

If you’re going to make grandiose promises on product rollouts, you had better follow through with them. Nobody likes paper launches and grandstanding, so it’s always nice when such actors get put in their place. Such is the case with Verizon, which promised in 2008 that it would make its FiOS network available to all households in the five New York City boroughs by June 30, 2014.

Needless to say, Verizon failed to live up to its promises, and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is here to bust the company’s chops. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office delivered a blistering report outlining an audit of Verizon’s FiOS rollout, and needless to say, the telecom giant should be embarrassed by the results. Even though Verizon has had over six years to make good on its promises, it has “failed to meet its commitment to the people of New York City,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Based on consistent feedback from New Yorkers about their inability to access FiOS, we made a fair and thorough assessment of Verizon’s progress in meeting its citywide commitment,” added Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) Commissioner Anne Roest. “What we found was an incomplete network to date, and, perhaps most concerning, no plan for how to complete it.”

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The audit results show that Verizon hasn’t even run enough fiber throughout the city to back up its claims of reaching every New York City resident. In addition, the company has failed to document service requests for prospective FiOS customers, and for the requests that it has accepted, 75 percent hadn’t been responded to in over a year. And throwing more fuel on the fire, Verizon has even managed to violate New York City’s franchise agreement by “significantly delayed or failed to provide access to various other records, reports, and contracts requested by the City to conduct a full assessment of FiOS implementation.”

This should come as no surprise, as Verizon has also failed to live up to its broadband rollout commitments in the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

But in matters like this, it’s always nice to hear the other side of the story. In this case, Verizon claims that it has met its obligations and that factors outside of its control that have stifled its efforts to provide FiOS access to all in some cases.

"We indeed have met the requirement to install fiber optics through all five boroughs," said a Verizon spokesperson in a statement to Ars Technica. "Our $3.5 billion investment and the 15,000 miles of fiber we have built have given New Yorkers added choices and a robust set of advanced, reliable, and resilient services. The challenge we have is gaining access to properties which of course would expand availability. We look forward to working with the City to seek solutions to this issue."

The comment about landlords not giving access to their properties to extend internet service doesn’t pass must with Mayor de Blasio. The full audit (which can be found here in PDF form) indicates that Verizon refused to install its FiOS in certain buildings unless it was the exclusive provider of service, meaning that competing telecoms would be shutout.

But in the end, Verizon says that this is all a part of a big shakedown by May de Blasio’s administration which is working in concert with labor unions. “It is important to note that it’s not a mere coincidence that the report is made public today, and labor negotiations with our largest union begin on Monday,” Verizon added. “It’s well known the union has ties to the city administration, and things like this are a familiar union tactic we have seen before."

Those sound like fightin’ words to us…