Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and City Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach) earlier this week applauded the City for filing a breach of contract lawsuit against Verizon for allegedly not living up to its bargain of outfitting the entire City with its fiber-optics network.
The cable giant signed a deal with the then Bloomberg Administration City in 2008 to outfit the entire city with its fiber-optics FiOS by 2014. The lawsuit states there are still some 40,000 customers without the service.
“As a member of the City’s Franchise Concession Review Committee, I have a special responsibility in ensuring those granted the right to use the City’s inalienable property for a public service are fulfilling their contractual obligations. The fact is that Verizon, despite the overabundance of patience from government and taxpayers alike, has failed to live up to its obligation regarding the rollout of fiber-optic FiOS service,” said Adams.
“When I held a hearing at Brooklyn Borough Hall on this very issue in November of 2015, I was optimistic that our substantive concerns would be addressed. Unfortunately, our continued lack of connectivity reflects an unacceptable status quo, which is why I stand behind the City’s decision to file a lawsuit in this matter.”
Gentile said nearly a year-and-a-half since he held an Oversight and Investigations Committee hearing on Verizon’s failure to uphold its contractual obligations to the City of New York, they continue to drop the call.
“When it comes to New York City, promises are not made to be broken. Millions of households have been left without Fios service since 2014. Verizon can certainly and will certainly hear the City now,” said Gentile.
According to reports on the arstechnica.com web site, Verizon disputes the city's allegations. The telecom giant says that it is not required to install fiber in front of each building. Meanwhile, nearly 1 million New York households do not have access to Verizon's fiber-based FiOS service. Verizon says it has brought its network to 2.2 million NYC residences, while the city has an estimated 3.1 million households.
"In negotiating the agreement, both parties understood and agreed that Verizon would generally place its fiber-optic network along the same routes as had been used for its copper network and would use similar strategies for accessing individual buildings," Verizon wrote. "The obligation to 'pass' all buildings in the city was based on and consistent with that approach."
Verizon said its argument is confirmed by the fact that the NYC/Verizon agreement "intentionally omitted language" saying that households are passed only when facilities "have been installed in the street fronting the building," even though that language was used in the city's agreements with other cable providers.
Verizon also said that the DoITT verified Verizon's progress in meeting its deployment milestones four times in previous years.
"A political change in City Hall is not a basis to reinterpret long-agreed contractual provisions or to ignore years of consistent DoITT findings," Verizon said. (Republican Michael Bloomberg was mayor of New York when the cable franchise agreement was signed in 2008, while Democrat Bill de Blasio has been mayor since 2014.)
The city's previous findings during the earlier years of the fiber construction verified that Verizon had met requirements to pass certain percentages of buildings in the city by dates specified in the agreement. This allowed Verizon to reduce the amount of its performance bond. However, the city never agreed with Verizon that it had passed 100 percent of buildings.
By: KCP Staff