22 years after the promise of Verizon fiber, millions of people have only DSL or wireless

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Lowell McAdam, CEO of Verizon.

Verizon

22-Year Verizon Promise To Bring Fiber Internet Or “Comparable Technology” To Its Entire Service Area In Pennsylvania Has Left Over Two Million Homes With Nothing But DSL Or Wireless Service slower.

In 1993, Verizon’s predecessor, Bell, signed an agreement with state regulators in which it engaged “Deploy the technologies necessary to provide universal broadband availability in 2015. In order to meet this commitment, Bell plans to deploy a broadband network using fiber optics or other comparable technology capable of supporting services requiring bandwidth of at least 45 megabits per second or its equivalent. ”

In return, Verizon was allowed to charge higher phone rates. (Specifically, the company has been freed from the restrictions of rate-of-return regulation.) But today, at least 2.1 million Pennsylvania homes in Verizon’s telephone territory do not have access to the telephone network. optical fiber of the company.

“The fiber optic network is available in approximately 2.1 million premises (including residential and commercial). The vast majority of the remaining households have DSL or LTE wireless broadband options,” said a spokesperson for Verizon in Ars this week.

Overall, there are approximately “4.2 million residential homes in Verizon’s service areas in Pennsylvania,” the company also said. This leaves at least 2.1 million households without access to fiber. The actual figure is probably higher than this since the number of premises where fiber is available includes both homes and businesses. Verizon would not provide more exact figures.

Some of the customers without fiber are probably in former territory GTE controlled by Verizon; this area would not be subject to Bell’s fiber commitment.

Telecoms analyst Bruce Kushnick, who has been following the promises of telecom companies for years, wrote in its latest Huffington Post article that Verizon got away with not deploying fiber statewide because authorities have relaxed the requirements over the years, dropping the “45 megabits per second” minimum and allowing for Verizon to meet the obligation with wireless instead of fiber or other wired technology.

In the non-fibrous parts of Verizon territory, Verizon’s website says that DSL “High Speed ​​Internet” is available to “over a million” homes in Pennsylvania. Verizon website labels anything at least 0.5 Mbps as “high-speed Internet,” although its DSL download speeds can reach 15 Mbps. Anything at least 1.1 Mbps is “Enhanced High Speed ​​Internet” in Verizon parlance, even if it’s only a fraction of the country’s 25 Mbps broadband definition.

The “over a million” figure seems to be from a few years ago, and Verizon told us that it only included areas with speeds on the top of the DSL line. But the company wouldn’t provide an exact figure for total DSL availability in Pennsylvania.

As for wireless, Verizon Average LTE download speeds are 5 to 12 Mbps. While Verizon offers residential LTE service for people who can’t access wired broadband, the speeds and data caps make it a poor substitute for fiber internet.

Verizon says it has fulfilled all of its obligations, however.

“Verizon’s commitments have always been to make broadband service (as defined in the Chapter 30 law) universally available to its urban, suburban and rural customers by the end of 2015, and Verizon is in on track to meet those commitments, ”Verizon told Ars, referring to a state law that allowed carriers to seek relief from rate regulation. “To date, broadband is available to nearly 95% of Verizon North customers [the former GTE territory] customers and approximately 99% of Verizon Pennsylvania customers. Chapter 30 is technologically neutral, ensuring broadband availability through any technology or combination of technologies capable of meeting regulatory bandwidth requirements. Verizon has used a variety of technologies (eg DSL, fiber and LTE wireless) to fulfill its obligations. “

When Verizon signed its agreement in 1993, Pennsylvania defined broadband like 1.544 Mbps downstream and 128 kbps upstream. Even though Verizon’s commitment specifically required 45 Mbps by 2015, Verizon claimed in 2000 that it could meet the requirement by meeting the old 1.544 Mbps / 128 kbps standard.

State public service officials first resisted the change, directing Verizon in 2002 to “provide plans and targets to deploy at least 45 Mbps upstream and downstream broadband capacity to customer premises and, in the interim, an extended DSL deployment at speeds of at least 1.544 Mbps “. Verizon ultimately won.

In New Jersey last year, Verizon convinced the state to allow it to meet similar broadband obligations with wireless internet service instead of wired internet service.

Union: Verizon lets landlines fall into disrepair

Separately, a union of telecommunications workers today accused Verizon of not maintaining landlines throughout the Northeast.

“As a utility in these states, Verizon has a duty to maintain services for all customers. But we’ve seen how the company is abandoning users, especially on existing networks, and customers across the country have noticed that their quality of service is in free fall “, Dennis Trainor, head of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) said in the group’s announcement that he filed the Freedom of Information Act [FoIA] requests for “repair, maintenance and installation details for Verizon landline services” across the region. Applications for registration have been filed in New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC.

“The public deserves to be aware of Verizon’s failure to serve its customers and maintain a functioning phone system, and these FoIAs are meant to do just that,” Trainor said.

“Basic telephone service rates have increased in recent years, even as Verizon has refused to expand broadband services to many cities and rural communities, and the quality of service has deteriorated dramatically,” also writes the CWA. “The decline in Verizon’s quality of service has a particular impact on customers who cannot afford more advanced wired services, or who live in areas with few options for wired or wireless services.”

The union is also seeking information on Verizon’s launch of “Voice Link” cordless home phones to replace fixed copper lines.

Verizon told Ars that “absurd union demands are very common at this point in the bargaining cycle,” noting that negotiation of a new union contract begins in two weeks.

Verizon also released this statement:

We hear all kinds of rhetoric and meaningless hyperbole from unions at the start of every bargaining round and this time is no exception.

The reality is that Verizon continues to invest billions of dollars in its wireline networks every year. To pretend that we have abandoned or neglected our copper network is total nonsense.

Millions of our customers communicate effectively using voice or data services provided over our copper network. When a problem arises, we work quickly to alleviate it.

Keep in mind that we have approximately 10.4 million voice connections that use our fiber or copper networks. There are approximately 13,000 Verizon Voice Link customers, almost entirely by choice. And customers who use the service overwhelmingly tell us that they love it. For the union to claim that Verizon has abandoned our network and the customers who use it is ridiculous. Verizon invested $ 5.8 billion in its wireline networks (both copper and fiber) last year and there is no indication that is about to change. At the start of each bargaining cycle, it is customary for unions to make all kinds of dysfunctional allegations. Unfortunately, it looks like this next round of negotiations will bring more of the same.


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