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East Coast Mayors Representing Over 12 Million People Blast Verizon

East Coast Mayors Representing Over 12 Million People Blast Verizon: Stop Stalling, Start Building High-Speed Internet – and Guarantee Good Phone Service to All Consumers

In Some Cities, Verizon Ignores Legislative and Contractual Buildout Requirements; In Others, Refuses to Build FiOS at all, While Letting Traditional Landline Network Deteriorate Everywhere

WASHINGTON- Mayors of 14 cities with over 12 million residents are fed up with Verizon.  The Mayors expressed anger at Verizon’s refusal to build its high-speed FiOS network at all in some cities while in others the company fails, to meet contractual and legal requirements to complete universal build-outs.  The Mayors also expressed concern about Verizon’s treatment of its workforce in ongoing contract negotiations.

In a letter to Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam, the Mayors called on the company to sit down to discuss ways the company can better serve customers and resolve disputes with the Verizon workers who are in the midst of a contract negotiation.

”As Mayors, we understand firsthand how vital Broadband is to the growth of our local economies and to nurturing a healthy, competitive marketplace in our state. Our residents use the Internet to search for jobs, build home-based businesses, educate their children and engage in the civic life of our cities.

“But consistently and increasingly, our consumers have complained that FiOS service is not available to them. These are not isolated complaints – there are millions of residents in communities throughout the Northeast who have been left without service, and with no plan or promise for future resolution,” wrote the Mayors.
 
“At the same time, we are hearing concerns that both in cities covered by a FiOS franchise or in which FiOS is still completely unavailable, Verizon has been abandoning the copper network and traditional landline customers are experiencing frequent service outages, delays in repairs and installations, and forced migration to the inferior VoiceLink product. As you know, the New York Public Service Commission stated in its recent Staff Assessment of Telecommunications in NY: ‘In many areas of New York City, the legacy copper infrastructure is in such poor condition that copper failures due to weather conditions can cause long delays for service restoration and Commission service quality standards are missed,’” the letter continued.
 
In a sign of the growing frustration with Verizon’s refusal to invest in its wired network, 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.
 
The anger has been growing across the East Coast as Verizon systematically refuses to invest in its infrastructure.  In August, it was the only major U.S. telecommunications company to turn down federal funding to build broadband in unserved, primarily rural, communities, leaving many residents in eight states and the District of Columbia without access to vital communications options.  The company was offered $568 million over six years by the Federal government to bring broadband to 270,000 locations in Washington, DC, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia.

In New York State, the company refuses to avail itself of Governor Cuomo’s $500 million New New York Broadband Fund, which offers up to 50% subsidies to companies willing to build high-speed service in underserved areas.  For years, Verizon has steadfastly refused to bring its high-speed internet service (or FiOS) to areas like Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany, Rome, Utica and numerous other upstate New York cities, as well as much of Eastern Suffolk.  At a series of hearings held by New York State, elected officials from Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany, the North Country, the Southern Tier and the Hudson Valley decried the lack of FiOS in their communities.
 
Campaigns in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts have also called for FiOS to be built in their communities.
 
A damning audit of Verizon’s FiOS rollout in New York City found that Verizon has failed to meet its promise to deliver high-speed fiber optic internet and television to everyone in the city who wanted it.  During its negotiations for a city franchise, Verizon promised that the entire city would be wired with fiber optic cables by June 2014 and that after that date, everyone who wanted FiOS would get it within six months to a year.  The audit found that despite claiming that it had wired the whole city by November 2014, Verizon systematically continues to refuse orders for service.  The audit also found that Verizon stonewalled the audit process.
 
At the same time, Verizon has been letting its traditional phone network deteriorate.  In a letter to the FCC it admitted that it had only spent $200 million or $3.50 per customer over the last seven years to maintain its copper landline network in eleven states and the District of Columbia.  The Communications Workers of America filed letters in six states and Washington, DC calling on them to investigate whether Verizon was neglecting its responsibility.


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Contact: Michael Rabinowitz-Gold, 646-342-3469, rabinowitz@berlinrosen.com