13 Mayors (And One Almost-Mayor) Ask Verizon To Stop Dragging Its Feet On FiOS

Earlier this year, Verizon made clear what many industry watchers had known for years — that it was reaching the end of its first major buildout phase of Verizon FiOS service and that the company was going to focus on getting customers onto that network. But more than a dozen mayors, including the presumed future mayor of Comcast’s home city, have written the company to ask that it bring much-needed competition to their markets.

The letter [PDF] was sent late last week by the mayors of cities representing around 12 million people in Verizon’s existing telephone service footprint from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts.

“[W]e are writing to voice our concern at your company’s failure to meet the needs of our constituents for access to state-of-the-art fiber optic cable service,” reads the note to Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam.

“Our residents use the Internet to search for jobs, build home-based businesses, educate their children and engage in the civic life of our cities,” continue the mayors. “But consistently and increasingly, our consumers have complained that FiOS service is not available to them. These are not isolated complaints – there are millions of residents in communities throughout the Northeast who have been left without service, and with no plan or promise for future resolution.”

The mayors point to the ongoing war of words in New York City and various parts of New Jersey where some leaders contend that Verizon has failed to meet its contractual obligation to provide high-speed Internet service.

“In New York City, as elsewhere in the Northeast, the FiOS build-out has clear franchise deadlines and availability requirements for residents who would like to purchase FiOS,” reads the letter. “As New York City thoroughly documented in its recent audit, Verizon has failed to meet its contractual deadlines for rollout and service installation.”

The letter also addresses Verizon’s refusal thus far to offer FiOS at all in markets like Albany, Syracue, or Lowell and Worcester in Massachusetts.

In addition to calling out Verizon’s apparent reluctance to invest in FiOS construction, the mayors question some of the company’s business practices.

“Based on irrefutable evidence of your company’s poor service record, lack of transparency and accountability, or demands for exclusive agreements with landlords throughout the region, we are deeply concerned that you have not acted like a good corporate citizen,” reads the letter, “and that an incomplete FiOS rollout will result in decreased competition and the reduction of benefits to consumers throughout the Verizon footprint.”

The mayors say they all agree on a goal of having “Vigorous competition to provide the most advanced services at the lowest prices” and in “closing the digital divide and ensuring that our city residents have the same choices of providers as the affluent suburbs.”

A spokesperson for Verizon tells Consumerist that “There is absolutely ‘no news’ in this letter,” and maintains that, “In all areas where Verizon has franchises and agreed to deploy FiOS, we have met or surpassed our deployment obligations.”


Below is the full list of mayors that signed on to the letter. Of interest is the inclusion of Philadelphia’s James Kenney. As the Democratic candidate for mayor, he’s the presumed winner in the upcoming election. Signing his name to a letter that calls for Verizon to bring more FiOS to his city (which has partial FiOS access) could be seen as a slap in the face of Comcast, whose tower looms large over Philadelphia City Hall.

Kenney’s inclusion is a marked departure from current Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter who has been such a cheerleader for Comcast that he led a mayoral coalition pushing for approval of the company’s doomed acquisition of Time Warner Cable.

The Nutter administration has also been involved in such Comcast-friendly moves as giving the cable company an advance look at a long-delayed, heavily critical customer survey. Not to mention the city’s efforts to effectively outlaw satellite dishes on the front of buildings.

Anyway, here are the mayors that signed on to the letter sent to Verizon:

• Joseph M. Petty; Worcester
• Rodney M. Elliot; Lowell
• Bill Carpenter; Brockton
• Daniel Rizzo; Revere

• William Peduto; Pittsburgh
• Democratic candidate James Kenney; Philadelphia

• Ras Baraka; Newark
• Steven M. Fulop; Jersey City
• Jose Torres; Paterson
• Eric E. Jackson; Trenton

• Bill de Blasio; New York City
• Byron Brown; Buffalo
• Stephanie Miner; Syracuse
• Kathy Sheehan; Albany

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.