Verizon is ?weaseling out? of NJ commitment, leaving poor regions behind

Verizon is reneging on its commitment to bring its all-fiber FiOS network to New Jersey’s poorest cities, according to the mayors of Newark and Jersey City. Mayor Steven Fulop of Jersey City and Mayor Ras Baraka of Newark are “concerned” that Verizon is breaking a 2006 commitment to deploy its fiber network to every one of the state’s 70 densest municipalities by exploiting a procedural loophole to avoid building FiOS to lower-income communities in their cities. The mayors were expected to call a press conference to discuss the discrepancy, but are now reportedly meeting with Verizon officials in private.


“It's very important to us that Verizon completes the full build-out in Jersey City, in Newark, and in all New Jersey urban areas," Mayor Fulop said in a statement. "At the same time, we want to make sure that the workforce doing this build-out is composed of well-paid, local, union jobs."


To build its fiber network to multi-unit properties, Verizon needs permission to access the property from the landlord. But the company stands to make more money from higher-income communities than lower-income communities, so Verizon doesn’t petition all landlords equally.What we understand the practice to be is that, if you're in a wealthy high-rise next to the water in Jersey City, they will bend over backwards trying to get into that building,” says Seth Hahn, Legislative and Political Director for Communications Workers of America New Jersey. “But if you live on the other end of the tracks, they'll send you a letter saying, ‘We'd like access to your building.’” If landlords refuse or don’t reply, Verizon requests a waiver from state regulators, thereby bypassing the building’s residents.


Verizon is exploiting this process to avoid building FiOS to lower-income communities. As a result, residents in Jersey City and Newark, two municipalities with high poverty rates compared to the rest of the state, are being left behind. Public records show that Verizon requested waivers for 25,311 properties in Jersey City and 21,293 properties in Newark. In richer municipalities like Trenton, Weehawken, and Hackensack, the number of waiver requests never exceeded 3,000.Even after adjusting for population,” the Verge reported, “there’s a significant difference.”


The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has failed to provide oversight over the waiver process. It took a public records request to find out how many locations were not being served. And it appears that the state regulatory agency is sitting on the waiver requests -- effectively denying customers in those locations the benefit of fiber deployment and competition.

Verizon is weaseling out of its deal to bring FiOS to New Jersey’s poorest regions (The Verge, Sept. 14, 2015)

 

Verizon loophole keeps high-speed Internet from poor N.J. residents, mayors say (NJ.com, Sept. 15, 2015)

 
Verizon Accused of FiOS Redlining in New Jersey
(DSL Reports, Sept. 15, 2015)
 

Verizon fights to break previous agreement to bring FiOS to poor, under-served NJ markets (ExtremeTech, Sept. 15, 2015)