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September 21, 2014
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Updated: Sep. 21 (06:03)

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Verizon blames Hurricane Sandy, other issues for not completing NYC FiOS build out on time

June 9, 2014 | By Sean Buckley

Verizon may see New York City as one of its key growth markets for FiOS, but it looks like it won't meet its June 30, 2014 deadline to fulfill its promise of building out its fiber to the premises (FTTP) network throughout the entire city.

In a 2008 franchise agreement it signed with the city, Verizon said it would wire every part of the five boroughs with FTTP network facilities by the end of June. The telco added that once the fiber was installed along a street it would be able to deliver FiOS to any customer who wanted it within six months to a year.

However, a number of issues have prevented Verizon from meeting its build-out goals.

It blames weather issues, including 2012's Superstorm Sandy—a storm that drove it to replace much of its downtown copper infrastructure with fiber—Hurricane Irene in 2011, and a union strike, for not being able to meet its obligation on time.

In addition, the service provider claimed that the city's landlords put up too many barriers to roll out the service.

According to a New York World report, Verizon "filed petitions with state regulators alleging that owners of 219 buildings in the five boroughs housing 26,000 apartments have prevented crews from coming in to wire the premises."

However, one landlord said that he decided to block Verizon's new expansion effort because after earlier projects "they never came back to fix the holes that were drilled, fix the boxes they installed, and put molding on their respective wires."

Verizon said that while they acknowledge they missed their deadline, they plan to implement a "microtrenching" installation approach to get fiber into homes.

One of the other controversial issues that has arisen is that the telco will not provide the city with maps that show where it has laid fiber, claiming that it is information it does not want its cable competitors like Cablevision and Time Warner Cable to see. However, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio says that the lack of information has fueled concerns that the telco has focused its attention on serving upscale neighborhoods.

At the same time, most residents don't know if they are eligible to get FiOS.  

"Consumers don't know whether this deadline applies to their building, because they can't easily tell whether it has been 'passed' by fiber," Charles Fraser, general counsel for the city's Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications (DoITT) told Crain'sNewYork.com. "And from anecdotes we're hearing, we're increasingly concerned that Verizon has not made that information comprehensively and accurately available to its own customer-service operations."

Verizon denies it is discriminating against low-income areas and blames what it says is an outdated deployment model.

"Logically, we would like to build as quickly as possible and satisfy customer demand," said Chris Levendos, vice president of national operations at Verizon and an architect of the FiOS network. "The challenges we've had over the last couple of years are because the process is inefficient, and we're focused on fixing that."

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