Elected Officials, Co-Op City Residents Demand Verizon Stop Denying Co-Op City High Speed Internet Choice
Rally Comes After Poll Shows 72% of Co-Op City Residents Want FiOS Option
New York – State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, State Assemblyperson Mike Benedetto, Councilman Andy King, union members and Co-Op City residents came together today to demand Verizon stop stalling and offer its high-speed FiOS internet, phone and television in Co-Op City. The demand comes days after a poll showed that almost three quarters of Co-Op City residents want the option of Verizon FiOS service.
“I want every constituent in my district – including Co-Op City – to have a choice in their communications provider. Competition means choices and helps bring rates down. Co-Op City residents have shown unequivocally that they want FiOS. In a recent poll, 26% of residents said they would ‘definitely sign up for FiOS’ if it were available and 46% said they would ‘consider signing up.’ That means 72% of Co-Op residents polled are interested in getting FiOS,” said State Senator Hassell-Thompson. “Verizon’s franchise agreement with the City mandates that the company make FiOS available to every resident. That’s what they promised, and that’s what residents want. We believe we have an opportunity here to make that happen. We’d like to see all the parties come together and have a discussion of how to make that a reality.”
“I believe that the residents of Co-Op City deserve a chance to make a choice for their cable and internet services. I wonder why Verizon is not giving them this choice,” said State Assemblyperson Mike Benedetto.
“Residents of Co-Op City want FiOS because they want a choice. If there’s competition and more choices, you can get a better deal,” said Ross Harrison, a Co-Op City resident and Verizon worker who installs FiOS in Manhattan. “Building FiOS in Co-Op City would guarantee us work, and would make for better community relations between Verizon, CWA and Co-Op City. Right now residents feel like they’ve been abandoned.”
“Co-Op city residents want FiOS, and our members want to build it. According to its franchise agreement with the City, Verizon has an obligation to make FiOS available to every NYC resident, and Co-Op City residents are clearly residents of NYC. Building FiOS would mean choices for Co-Op City residents, and would help keep good jobs in the Bronx,” said Keith Purce, President CWA Local 1101.
Last year, a damning audit of Verizon’s FiOS rollout by the New York City government found that Verizon has failed to meet the terms of its franchise agreement, which requires the FiOS network to be available to any household that requests service by June 2014.
Currently, thousands of street blocks, including Co-Op City, cannot get any service at all. Millions of New Yorkers cannot get FiOS service, leaving them dependent on their cable company for TV and internet service.
The City Council held a hearing on the issue and an investigation found that Verizon call center representatives did not offer an explanation for a lack of service or any estimate of when service would be available.
Expanding FiOS creates competition with the cable monopoly, improving quality and lowering prices while delivering good jobs.
Background on Verizon Failure to Invest in Promised Infrastructure
Verizon has been systematically refusing to invest in its infrastructure throughout the East Coast. 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.
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.