Mayors on The East Coast Call on Verizon to Improve Broadband Service


Mayors in 14 cities across the East Coast have written a letter to Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam calling on him to make good on promises for both basic and better services. The mayors represent some 12 million residents and include some of the biggest cities on the East Coast like New York and Philadelphia.

In the letter, the mayors called on the company to sit down to discuss ways to better serve customers and resolve disputes with the Verizon workers who are in the midst of a contract negotiation. The letter does have the backing of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the union involved with the Verizon workers dispute.

“Based on irrefutable evidence of your company’s poor service record, lack of transparency and accountability, or demands for exclusive agreements with landlords throughout the region, we are deeply concerned that you have not acted like a good corporate citizen and that an incomplete FiOS rollout will result in decreased competition and the reduction of benefits to consumers throughout the Verizon footprint. As elected officials, it is our obligation and our responsibility to bring these complaints to your attention,” – the letter reads.

The letter was signed by the mayors of New York, Pittsburgh, Newark, Jersey City, Buffalo, Worcester, Paterson, Syracuse, Lowell, Albany, Brockton, Trenton and Revere and the Democratic candidate for mayor in Philadelphia.

In an emailed statement to CivSource, Rich Young, Verizon spokesman said – “There is absolutely “no news” in this letter. In all areas where Verizon has franchises and agreed to deploy FiOS, we have met or surpassed our deployment obligations. Since Verizon started bargaining this year with the CWA, we’ve seen numerous half-baked and inaccurate letters and statements from Union leaders regarding Verizon’s FiOS commitments and more. It’s all nonsense. The reality is that all of these misguided PR stunts are an attempt by Union leaders to try and force to company to hire more union-represented employees which will, in turn, increase dues and revenues for the union. It won’t work.

If Union leaders truly want to positively represent their members, we suggest that they engage in constructive negotiations with the company with a goal of reaching a new contract that reflective of today’s communications marketplace and is fair to our employees and our customers.”

To date, however, Verizon does have a record of turning down money from governments to build. Verizon and AT&T turned down money in 2012, and more recently this summer.

New York City recently released a lengthy audit of the company’s service record which shows that little has been done. According to the audit, field inspections confirm that blocks claimed by Verizon as completed in fact have not had installed the necessary equipment to deliver service. Further, Verizon’s own records indicate that service is “unavailable” at certain residential addresses, despite company claims that it can deliver service to all New Yorkers who want FiOS.

Verizon staff also admitted to city officials that they did not record or track inquiries from prospective customers who requested service before fall 2014. This is in direct violation of the franchise agreement, which requires Verizon to track requests for cable service. Many service requests had been outstanding for at least a year the city says. Verizon for its part, contends that it has filed the necessary agreement extensions and is fulfilling its end of the deal.  The full audit is available here.

Some municipalities like Leverett, Massachusetts have simply opted to take matters into their own hands and launch a municipally backed network. The network is the first ‘Last Mile’ project built off of MassBroadband 123, the 1,200 mile fiber-optic ‘Middle Mile’ network jointly funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program. As DSL Reports noted today, Leverett had previously asked Verizon to provide service as far back as 2005.

Prior to the network’s launch, residents relied on non-broadband technologies such as dial-up, satellite, or DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) to access the internet, but are now served by a fiber-optic network capable of delivering speeds of 1 gigabit per second.

The LeverettNet network was constructed by Millennium Communications Group.