NYC audits Verizon's FiOS promise, finds it lacking

Carriers are being held up to government scrutiny this week. Just days after AT&T was fined by the FCC for throttling data, it's Verizon's turn to be on the hot seat, this time with the New York City government breathing down its neck. The office of Mayor Bill de Blaiso says that Verizon has greatly failed to deliver on its promise back in 2008 to put high-speed fiber-optic connections throughout the city, under its FiOS service. Naturally, Verizon denies the allegation and even hints that this audit might have ulterior motives.

In 2008, Verizon signed a franchise agreement with New York City to allow it to deploy its FiOS network in the area. For its part, Verizon has agreed to run its fiber optic wires across the city and to provide the service to anyone who wants it. According to an audit made by the government, however, there are still 40,000 pending requests for the service, and of these, 75 percent have been pending for more than a year.

The audit basically accuses Verizon of intentionally delaying providing FiOS in some buildings pending an exclusive agreement with building owners to be the sole provider of cable and Internet service. Verizon doesn't deny that it seeks exclusivity but does deny that it is the only consideration. That said, it does practically blame long standing negotiations with land owners as the reasons for the delays.

Verizon spokesperson John Bonomo somewhat calls into question the timing of NYC's audit. It believes that it is primarily politically motivated, due to the company's upcoming union talks, where Verizon is expected to push for harsher cuts, particularly in health care. Naturally, the NYC government denies this. That said, de Blaiso and Verizon haven't exactly been the best of friends. In 2013, when he was still running for mayer, de Blaiso already called out Verizon's slow deployment of FiOS, especially over Upper Manhattan and South Bronx, considered to be less affluent areas.

At least Verizon isn't being sued over it. At least not yet. The government will first work with Verizon to get the ball rolling again before it resorts to legal action. Verizon, however, is being sued over FiOS by ESPN. The sports network claims that Verizon's new FiOS bundling scheme, which it launched last April, is a breach of contract which requires Disney channels to always be bundled together.

SOURCE: The Wall Street Journal