Philadelphia and NJ to Verizon: Build out FiOS!

Although Verizon announced it will cease building out its FiOS network, some communities are not letting the company opt out of its commitments, or of fairness to residents.

As it has in many cities, Verizon's Philadelphia fiber network currently bypasses low-income sections of the metro area. Although Verizon says it will fulfill its franchise agreement and make FiOS available to the entire city, the service is presently available to only one-third of Philadelphia residences.

In an effort to force Verizon to extend FiOS to all, Philadelphia's city council "... is planning to hold a hearing focused on gauging how the telco may be able to expand the service to low-income neighborhoods."

As Philadelphia councilman Jim Kenney told local TV, "We were happy to have competition with our current major cable provider, Comcast. But we want to make sure that every neighborhood in the city is getting built out with the FiOS, and not just neighborhoods that can afford to pay the fees."

Meanwhile, across the Delaware River in New Jersey, the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU) on April 1, ordered Verizon to "to show cause by April 12 why BPU should not find that Verizon failed to comply with its [plan] to provide full broadband capability in the company's service territory by 2010."

While Verizon had been telling New Jersey officials that it had nearly completed its commitment to make broadband available throughout the state, some communities said that it was only 70 percent complete. Moreover, the BPU was responding to "the number of complaints, severity and frequency of service outages and the duration of service-related issues" and "what measures should be taken by Verizon to rectify the situation."

Speed Matters believes that companies should not favor wealthy over low-income communities when building out broadband, which we see as a necessary service in order to participate in public life today.

Philadelphia presses Verizon to expand FiOS footprint (Fiercecable, Apr. 13, 2012)
 
Verizon asserts broadband commitments have been met despite complaints in Greenwich, Stow Creek
(nj.com, Apr. 15, 2012)