Verizon has 20 more days to make fiber-optic high speed broadband service available throughout New York City, and the company isn’t going to make it.
The telecom giant signed a 2008 franchise agreement with the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) promising to bring its FiOS TV and Internet service to all five boroughs of the city.
Verizon acknowledges that it will miss the deadline, but has blamed all manner of things — some within its control and some beyond — for its failure.
Some of the excuses are questionable.
The company blames both Hurricane Irene (2011) and Hurricane Sandy (2012), but Verizon said it was ahead of schedule on the FiOS build-out after Sandy.
The city can seek financial damages from Verizon for missing the June 30 deadline, but if Verizon can blame the delays on natural events like storms — “force majeure” causes — it can avoid the penalties.
Verizon also blames uncooperative landlord for the delays. But there are two sides to the story. Landlords report Verizon techs starting installations then failing to return to finish for long periods of time.
Verizon also says its own deployment plans for bringing FiOS to the whole city have been problematic and is proposing a new approach. The company now says it wants to use a “grid” approach where it would advertise FiOS service to build up demand in a certain area before actually laying the fiber lines. This, Verizon believes, would make it easier to for it to deal with landlords.
Under the terms of the franchise agreement, Verizon has up to twelve months to deliver fiber service to households outside which it has run its fiber lines.
But many New York residents simply don’t know if Verizon has brought the fiber to their block. And, some say, Verizon hasn’t been very forthcoming with the information.
“Consumers don’t know whether this deadline applies to their building, because they can’t easily tell whether it has been ‘passed’ by fiber,” said Charles Fraser, general counsel for DoITT, in a chat with VentureBeat. “And from anecdotes we’re hearing, we’re increasingly concerned that Verizon has not made that information comprehensively and accurately available to its own customer-service operations.”
Verizon now says it will miss the June 30 deadline only by a few months.
The New Jersey-based company said in 2011 that it would stop further build-outs of its FiOS network but would continue to maintain and promote FiOS within existing markets such as New York City. Verizon said at the time it would rather spend its money expanding its wireless networks, which cost less than fiber networks to build.
Verizon is also trying to get out of providing fiber TV and Internet service to all residents in New Jersey.