New York City sues Verizon over fibre roll-out disagreement

14 Mar 2017

New York City. Image: Luciano Mortula – LGM/Shutterstock

The number of New York City households without Verizon fibre broadband has proved significant enough to force the hand of officials, sparking a lawsuit.

New York City yesterday filed a lawsuit against Verizon, alleging that the telecoms giant failed to satisfy the terms of its 2008 agreement to provide fibre connectivity to ‘all households’.

Nine years ago, Verizon secured the city-wide cable television tender, and part of the deal was that it would connect every household with its network of fibre cabling.

The benefit for New York City, as officials understood it, was that Verizon’s fast internet connectivity was supported by this cabling too, so TV delivered to homes would be complemented by better broadband speeds.

However, to date, Verizon claims to be connecting just 2.2m of the estimated 3.1m households in the city, according to Ars Technica.

As a result, New York City officials are taking legal action.

“Verizon must face the consequences for breaking the trust of 8.5m New Yorkers,” said city mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement.

“Verizon promised that every household in the city would have access to its fibre-optic Fios service by 2014. It’s 2017 and we’re done waiting. No corporation, no matter how large or powerful, can break a promise to New Yorkers and get away with it.”

The city alleges that Verizon also “failed in many instances – believed to number at least in the tens of thousands – to timely complete installations as requested by potential subscribers, leaving such New Yorkers without the desired television service”.

Verizon called the move “disappointing”, saying that New York City’s service claims have “no basis” in the original terms of agreement.

The telecoms company suggests that the interpretation of language is the sticking point, whereby the city’s understanding of the proposal to ‘pass all households’ with cabling is contrary to its own.

New York City. Image: Luciano Mortula – LGM/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic