Most Verizon FIOS Installations Violate National Electric Standards

A two-year investigation has concluded that most Verizon FIOS installations fail to meet national safety standards, and could cause fires or electrocutions. FIOS is famous for house fires, but New York’s Public Service Commission first started its investigation back in 2006 after several inspectors discovered improperly grounded installations.

PSC staff said FiOS “may form an electrically conductive path” and could create an electrical hazard. PSC spokesman James Dean called the public safety risk “minimal – however, there is a potential risk.”

Under a plan submitted to the PSC last month, Verizon would review all of its fiber-optic installations to ensure connections are properly grounded and correct violations.

The company also said it would issue credits of up to $20 to customers for installations after Aug. 18 unless it meets standards at least 95 percent of the time. The credits would “compensate such customers for the inconvenience of the inspection (and, where applicable, remediation) process,” according to documents filed with the PSC.

Verizon added that they take the Public Service Commission’s concerns “very seriously.”

Verizon offers plan to inspect FiOS wiring [Albany Times Union]
Violations cited in LI FiOS installations [Newsday]
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. azntg says:

    Like always… very very seriously.

  2. mrsultana can't get a password to work says:

    Does the $20 indemnify them from future lawsuits if they burn down the house? Because my house burning down is something I pursue vigorously and take very seriously.

  3. JusticeGustine says:

    New York loses out on a big opportunity. Jonathan Kramer has been inspecting cable TV grounds for cities seeking more revenue for years.

    See some bad grounds:

    [www.kramerfirm.com]

  4. joe714 says:

    The report said inspectors found that some FiOS equipment was grounded to […] plastic pipe elbows

    That makes less sense than skipping the ground altogether.

    • s25843 says:

      @joe714:

      Beat this one: I had DirecTV come out and upgrade my dish to HD.

      They couldn’t install it on my roof (where the old dish is) because a tree was in the way of one of the HD satellites. So they ended up doing a pole mount. The first installer installed the dish right into a path of a tree, and if that wasn’t bad enough, GROUNDED the dish to my GAS MAIN.

      I didn’t call the city about the install, but DirecTV came out within 3 days, moved the dish, and fixed the grounding problem.

  5. JusticeGustine says:

    New York lost out on some money. Jonathan Kramer has been inspecting cable systems for compliance for years. Puts money in his pocket and revenues in city coffers. Good examples of bad grounding at http://www.kramerfirm.com.

  6. TVarmy says:

    Seems like a decent resolution, unless Mr. Sultana is right that accepting the $20 means agreeing to waive certain legal rights. I’d probably go with FIOS if it came to my town, because I hear it’s more reliable at staying up at speed. We recently had our cable company bought out by Comcast, and I’m not thrilled at the speed. Tends to be 2-3 mb slower than advertised except at weird hours, such as the middle of the workday or the wee small hours of the morning.

    The 250 GB cap isn’t helping, either. I don’t use that much today, but in a few months, cheap-to-free online drive backups may catch on, which would use a ton of my account’s set bandwidth. Plus, it seems anti-competition for their TV branch. Should Netflix or another service start streaming in HD, that could help push me against the ceiling of my broadband account, which would then motivate me to go with Comcast’s On-Demand service.

    • taking_this_easy says:

      @TVarmy: same here…

      in central NJ, Patriot Media bought by Comcast…

      speeds still alright though… downloaded 80GB this month (olympics TVtonic + regular monthly 30GB bandwidth stuff)…..

      250GB does suck if i have 4 people in my house that suck that much bandwidth

  7. amejr999 says:

    What about other states?

  8. Ragman says:

    Man, what kind of techs are they hiring that think PVC is conductive? Besides, you can’t always attach it to plumbing, since you can’t be sure the pipe’s metal all the way. My house has all copper plumbing, but they still have a ground wire run from the cold water inlet on the water heater to the ground rod.

    I might buy off on an employee “forgetting” to connect the ground. Hooking it to a PVC pipe though, that’s firing time for incompetence.

    • TVarmy says:

      @Ragman: I was thinking the same thing. I should mention this in my Materials and Structures engineering course.

    • doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

      @Ragman: How can an ‘electrical’ technician ‘forget’ to connect the ground?
      1. Decide where to mount the box.
      2. Mount the box.
      3. GROUND THE BOX.

      This isn’t rocket science.

      • Ragman says:

        @doctor_cos: If the grounding is going to require some effort, they delay doing it and finish the install, then “forget” to do the work to run a ground wire. Then, say “I was going to do it after I finished running the coax, but I got caught up in my routine and forgot”, or something along those lines. Not that it’s a great excuse, and I would chew out a tech who did so, but it’s more plausible than “but I hooked to the cold water PVC pipe”.

        In my neighborhood, the phone interfaces are four feet above the grounding rods, so it’s an easy install. I think the person who laid the cable was a contractor, and the tech who installed/setup the system was a contractor. What worried me was that he showed up with a work order for my house that had 3 standard setop boxes, instead of the 2 HD PVRs that I had ordered. Fortunately, he had a couple at the shop(mine, I’m sure) he went and got that evening.

        This also brings up another point. The ONTs are generally installed near the older interface boxes, which should already have grounding lines. Shouldn’t have to hunt up another ground if it’s there.

  9. u1itn0w2day says:

    Alot of the telecommunications work is still done under the premise that they are exempt from electrical code and permits because they are a utility and it is/waas low voltage.

    AND grounding is not taken seriously as you can see by many phone company personel.There are slot of techs out there either from,trained or managed by ex RBOC employees who could get away from sloppy grounding when the phone lines where used for voice communication with 48V over copper to an over built rotary phone.

    Anyone who has dealt with electronics or electricity should realize the importance of grounding.These techs just remembered cold water pipe where the instructor meant copper cold water pipe.Even computer and switching techs know to use grounding straps to prevent STATIC electricity from blowing boards.

    Improper grounding on a low voltage permit will fail an inspection in most locations.

    If Verizon wants to be exempt from things like permits then they sure as heck should be regulated like an utility.

    Grounding to a plastic pipe-WTF…

    • cerbie says:

      @u1itn0w2day: no one should be exempt from such standards. Even low voltage and low current can be deadly, and a fire hazard, in the right (wrong?) circumstances. Ground first, zap yourself later.

  10. sonneillon says:

    This is a shame because I think that more places should offer broadband at FIOS level speeds. Oh well, get better trained techs and teach them what a circuit is.

  11. TPK says:

    Did nobody else notice this “95% of the time”?

    5% of all FiOS households is still an awful lot of houses that might burn down or electrocute somebody!

    Man I wish I could find the kind of job where I could totally screw up all the time like this and still get paid. How come you never see these jobs in the paper?

  12. Vzylexy says:

    *shakes head*
    It’s not like they HAVE to ground everything to pipes, they can use a grounding rod and tie it into the ground from the load center.

  13. u1itn0w2day says:

    The one article pointed out that over 50% of these installs had violations.

    Are these Verizon techs or contractors?

    It sounds like grounding is treated as something that only an anal tech would do,a pesky little detail they have to complete to get paid.It’s either not explained or they are making certain assumptions about the techs.

    The power end of full fiber deployment has always been a sticking point in that the customer becomes responsible for more than 48v from the central office.The customer must now pay for power in more ways than one.

    Since you need an additional power source for this service to me this should be permited work.It is NOT the low voltage of years past.

    • FLConsumer says:

      I’d love to see what happens to the FIOS installs in Florida when they try to use an alternative ground. Electrical systems with multiple ground rods in Florida are lightning magnets. I’ve seen more lightning damage caused by multiple grounds than I have in buildings with NO grounds (pre-1970’s).

  14. HFC says:

    Shouldn’t that say “Most Verizon FIOS installations in New York Violate National Electric Standards?” You had me worried for a minute. I couldn’t care less what happens to people in New York. Just like no one in New York cares about what happens to me… or anyone else outside of New York.

    • @HFC:
      Frst ff, y rlly shld STF bcs y r bvsly n dt. Scnd f ll, Nw Yrkrs d cr bt thr ppl. FDNY, NYPD, nd FDNY-MS r ll sndng nts t Nw rlns, dspt svr bdgt cts tht dn’t tk rspndng t fllw cty hlfwy crss th Cntry nt ccnt.

      Mny prvt Nw Yrkrs r ls vlntrng dw thr. knw f t lst n prsn wh wll lmst crtnly nd p gng wth th Rd Crss. myslf, lng wth btch f thr Nw Yrkrs my ls b snt t hlp.

      S yh, STF.

  15. headhot says:

    Working for the cable companies, I know that they take NEC very seriously. Techs are trained over and over again as to how to correctly install a ground block, and what is OK to ground to, correct mounting of over head wires, ect. A tech getting audited, and being found not following NEC is grounds for termination at alot of the major operators.

    Remember, as much as people dislike cable companies, they have been installing this stuff for decades, I have yet to hear of Comcast burning down a house, but Verizon seems to manage to torch 2 or 3 a year.

  16. smint says:

    Great, now I’m going to have to field calls from people who want me to send a tech to ground their installation and my moron supervisors will have no idea what they’re talking about.

  17. warf0x0r says:

    So its fire worse than dealing with comcast?

  18. u1itn0w2day says:

    There was an electricians union in our area that wanted all the private wiring that was being done by the RBOCs under the premise that it was low voltage electrical work.Felt they were more qualified than BOCs employees.

    Well,if they still want that work or represent those employees here is some fodder for their case.

    • doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

      @u1itn0w2day: This is ‘technically’ low voltage work.
      I would have thought that it still must be up to code (local codes/NEC).

      As far as grounding goes, I can look it up, but I seem to recall that conductive enclosures need to be grounded, and non-conductive enclosures need to have a ground(ed) bar or plate in them to connect the other (necessary) grounds. In other words, any enclosure needs to be properly grounded.

      Ungrounded (including improperly grounded) electrical panels are UNSAFE, regardless of high/low voltage.

  19. Nighthawke says:

    As they should be, ALWAYS.

    NEC Code is The Holy Writ for any kind of electrical installation, even low voltage jobs. The only thing that needs to be addressed here is the subcontractors and their lukewarm IQ levels when it comes to being NEC compliant.

    Did they even take basic electricity in school? At the first of the class I took the teacher held up the 2 inch thick book and said: “This book is your life’s guide now, you follow what it says, you won’t have any trouble or problems. You don’t do so, either you’ll be in trouble with the city, your clients, or dead from your own incompetence.”

    I don’t care if it is classified as low voltage, if it needs to be grounded properly then they need to follow installation guidelines. The manual is there to be followed, not read and discarded.

  20. aerick79 says:

    Its Verizon, Hello Mcfly!!!! Do I need to say more?

  21. Tank says:

    They should issue each customer installed after Aug 18 a $20 credit every time a new installation doesn’t meet standards. Of course, they’ll go bankrupt in no time, but it will punish the bad people for poor performance. OR maybe they’ll finally hire qualified installers.

  22. StoneKitten says:

    Bites nails and adds to list of 10000000000000 things to worry about.
    I feel like Butters sometimes.

  23. poppabear1 says:

    this is a very interesting situation. I worked with fiber optic cable for a few years in Maryland and ran into this very same thing. The code requires the cable to be grounded at the entrance of the building. The interesting thing about fiber optic cable is that there is absolutely no metal in the cable at all. It is a diaelectric, non conductive, even a lightning strike will not conduct down it. It gets it’s strength from the kevlar fibers in the cable. In fios connections, the cable running to the house is non conductive as well. When I was talking to an inspector, he acknowledged the fact that it had nothing to ground the cable with, he still said code required it. Typical government intelligence.

  24. u1itn0w2day says:

    Oh I agree it’s low voltage work but how come the BOCs aren’t even required to pull somekind of general blanket permit for doing low voltage in a particular area.

    Even if it’s a general permit of somekind at least Verizon or what ever other utility could be told to stop private work until they get there permit and problems taken care of.

    The problem with telecom and data is that the technology moves faster than the ordinances like the fiber must grounded example.But there is powered equipment with fiber.

    It should be simple-if the power is from the provider they should be regulated like a utility.If the power is provided by the user it should be treated as contract work ie low voltage at least.Overlap goes to utility regulation with a special permit of somekind.