By B.N. Frank
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is supposed to protect Americans from the telecom industry. They have been doing a lousy job for decades (see 1, 2) and have become more dangerous during the Trump administration. The agency refuses to update antiquated and insufficient federal radiation exposure guidelines despite repeated requests by doctors and scientists (see 1, 2). Lawsuits have been filed against them for NOT protecting the public from unsafe levels of radiation as well as 5G on Earth (see 1, 2, 3, 4) and in space.
A group of telecom experts who call themselves “The Irregulators” are among those who filed a lawsuit (see 1, 2) and WON. Because of their victory, state utility commissions are able to divert taxpayer dollars to provide safer high-speed internet via fiber optics. In fact, New York City recently won a lawsuit against Verizon and now the company has to install half a million lines of fiber.
According to Bruce Kushnick of “The Irregulators”, Americans’ time would be better spent breaking up Big Telecom and Big Cable instead of focusing on Big Tech.
AT&T, Verizon & CenturyLink are State Public Telecom Utilities
By Bruce Kushnick, Dec 23, 2020 | Original Medium article here.
Forget Big Tech: Break Up Big Telecom, then Big Cable.
While the “FTC” (“Federal Trade Commission”) and Attorney General offices around the US are actively going after Facebook, and there are other cases against Amazon or Google, claiming they are “Big Tech” and harming America, all of these services ride on the wires or airwaves that are mostly controlled by just a few companies: “Big Telecom” — AT&T, Verizon & CenturyLink, and “Big Cable” — Comcast & Charter.
Going after Big Telecom is a challenge because industry lawyers and lobbyists have rewritten history and blanketed the place with fiction. Truth be told, there is a disconnect between myth and reality about their telecommunications and cable services.
Many people are calling to make the Telcom’s broadband infrastructure a utility. It already is and has been hiding there in plain sight.
- First, every state still has a primary regulated State Public Telecom Utility (SPTU).
- Second, the copper and fiber optic wires, for the most part, are owned and operated by these SPTUs, yet few are aware of these key facts.
- These wires and the SPTU laws/regulations were not just about ‘voice’ calls but also about broadband, internet, data, video and gaming.
- Since the early 1990’s, SPTU landline customers have paid (and continue to pay) additional charges ($5-7 per month) on their SPTU phone bills to fund fiber optic for wired broadband which was supposed to have replaced the aging copper wires.
- The SPTU utilities never completed these network upgrades.
- Most Wireless service is 95% wired — only the last 5% is Wireless.
- Wireless broadband and Wireline broadband are NOT “functionally equivalent services,” per the 1996 Telecommunications Act (1996-Act) and Conference Report.
1996-Act Conference Report:
“When utilizing the term ‘‘functionally equivalent services’’ the conferees are referring only to personal wireless services as defined in this section that directly compete against one another.”
AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink— control the primary, critical wires, the infrastructure of most of the US, upon which all “personal wireless service” depends. Since Wireless requires fiber optic wires, the SPTU Wireline construction budgets that should have been used to upgrade America’s SPTU public Wireline networks, were, instead, diverted to build out Telecoms’ private Wireless networks. The SPTU Wireline construction money was also spent on everything from overseas investments to buying media or social media companies.
This has resulted in Big Telecom’s control over all telecommunications and broadband prices in America and in:
- overcharging for wireless and wireline phone services and cable tv services, as the companies never showed up to compete for high-speed broadband.
- creating the Digital Divide and Net Neutrality problems
- controlling — by Big Telecom — who gets service and at what speeds, and so Big Telecom can prioritize their own services over others.
Worse, when you realize that all of the wires — for phone, but also data services, DSL, VOIP, FiOS, U-Verse, backhaul, and Business Data Services (special access), are all still using the SPTU Wireline networks and all are part of the utility but have been ‘hidden from view’. In addition, the services, listed above, aren’t paying market prices, or most of their expenses have been diverted to be charged to local phone customers. All of this has made these SPTU networks appear unprofitable.
These maneuvers have been used to influence policy decisions, to get new deregulatory perks or more government subsidies — or to not build out the networks in rural areas or inner cities; it was used to raise rates, get tax benefits and cut staff, while making wireless and the other lines of business appear exceptionally profitable.
Big Telecom has been able to manipulate the FCC cost accounting rules and formulas that allocate expenses in order to cross-subsidize from public Wireline networks to private Wireless networks. That is against the 1996 Telecommunications Act’s Section 254(k) Subsidy of competitive services prohibited:
“A telecommunications carrier may not use services that are not competitive to subsidize services that are subject to competition. The Commission, with respect to interstate services, and the States, with respect to intrastate services, shall establish any necessary cost allocation rules, accounting safeguards, and guidelines to ensure that services included in the definition of universal service bear no more than are and they are now adjusted to have the majority of all expenses go into one category, Local Service, while all of the other services using the networks are paying a fraction of these expenses.”
And while this article has focused on Big Telecom, there have been no significant audits of the cable companies and it appears that their accounting has the same structural flaws.
If we are really going to solve the Digital Divide, lower prices and bring in competition, then cities, states, politicians and government officials all have to** start investigations** of this financial scandal and halt the cross-subsidies that have become accepted, and then — Break up Big Telecom and Big Cable.
For a simple view of what happened, see our video: Aunt Ethel Explains the Telco Accounting Scandal that Caused the Digital Divide — Halting the billions in subsidies caused by the accounting can pay for a fiber optic future and solve the Digital Divide.
Every State Still has a State Public Telecom Utility — Hidden, Yet in Plain Sight
In every conversation, virtually no one knows that there are still State Public Telecom Utilitoes (SPUTs). Even the California Public Utility Commission leaves out the basic “U” word in recent proceedings, as does the FCC in every proceeding.
But the laws in California and in almost every state, make it clear that** the wires are part of the utility covered by utility laws**.
- “DIVISION 1. REGULATION OF PUBLIC UTILITIES 201–3297 (Division 1 enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764. )
- PART 1. PUBLIC UTILITIES ACT [201–2120] ( Part 1 enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764. )
- ARTICLE 1. Specified Utilities [1001–1013] ( Article 1 enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764. ) .
“No railroad corporation whose railroad is operated primarily by electric energy, street railroad corporation, gas corporation, electrical corporation, telegraph corporation, telephone corporation, water corporation, or sewer system corporation shall begin the construction of a street railroad, or of a line, plant, or system, or of any extension thereof, without having first obtained from the commission a certificate that the present or future public convenience and necessity require or will require such construction. If any public utility, in constructing or extending its line, plant, or system, interferes or is about to interfere with the operation of the line, plant, or system of any other public utility or of the water system of a public agency, already constructed, the commission…”
Many of the laws were solidified in the Communications Act of 1934. The Telecom companies got a franchise for the wired services in the Public Right of Way (PROW) in every state, and almost all of America was wired — rural, urban and suburban areas — by the end of the 1960’s with a copper wire, the original standard wire for America’s telecommunications infrastructure.
AT&T, for example, controls 21 state utilities and yet AT&T never mentions that these utilities exist. And, we are talking about companies that have billions of dollars in revenues per state. In NY, the Verizon-NY Annual Report for the last 5 years showed annual revenues of $5 billion, with an additional estimated $7–10 billion in annual revenues from Verizon Wireless and other Verizon businesses in New York that are not on these books, but most are using these SPTU Wireline networks. The last data for AT&T California by the FCC showed over $10 billion in annual revenues — which is NOT all of the revenue in the state going to AT&T, so it could have as much as another $20 billion in annual revenues.
And this brings up the most serious question — why did these companies let their state-based infrastructure deteriorate to such an extent, as documented by the Communications Workers of America and others?
The Copper and Fiber Optic Wires Are Part of the State Public Telecom Utilities
Verizon’s fiber optic deployments for FiOS are done as “Title II”, Common Carrier networks and part of the State Public Telecom Utility
In 2014, we filed with the FCC that all of the Verizon fiber optic networks are Title II and part of the state utility. This quote is from the Verizon NJ FiOS franchise which was supposed to cover 95% of the state.
“The construction of Verizon NJ’s fiber-to-the-premises FTTP network (the FTTP network) is being performed under the authority of Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 and under the appropriate state… As such any construction being performed in the public rights of way is being undertaken pursuant to Verizon NJ authority as a telecommunication service provider.”
The “Title II” part is very controversial because Verizon talked out of both sides of its mouth. To the States it claims that these fiber optic wires are part of the state utility as Title II — this way Verizon could charge these networks to local phone customers and the utility.
But, at the same time, Verizon claims that these exact same wires are “Title I” because they are broadband and based on Internet Protocol (IP), making them an “Information Service”.
- “Title II” is like a road — everyone should be able to use it.
- “Title I” is private property and was used to block competition.
So, the FTTP, fiber to the premises, is Title II and part of the SPTU in every state.
The State Deregulations Were to Replace the Copper with Fiber to Deliver ALL Services, Not Just Voice Services Over the Copper, But Video and Data.
The state utility networks, sometimes called the “PSTN”, “Public Switched Telephone Networks”, were always designed to cover ALL services, which includes broadband and video services.
This is a quote from the Order by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities granting New Jersey Bell (now Verizon New Jersey) “Alternative Regulations” in 1992. Dubbed “Opportunity New Jersey”, this was supposed to transform the existing utility networks to broadband — and in this case, fiber optic broadband.
“NJ BELL’S PLAN FOR AN ALTERNATIVE FORM OF REGULATION MAY 21, 1992 — NJ Bell’s plan declares that its approval by the Board would provide the foundation for acceleration of an information age network in New Jersey and was referred to by NJ Bell as ‘Opportunity New Jersey’… Opportunity New Jersey would …accelerate the transformation of NJ Bell’s public switched network, which today transports voiceband services (voice, facsimile and low-speed data), to a public switched network, which transports video and high-speed data services in addition to voiceband services.”
The Information Superhighway Craze
Forget about the feeding frenzy over ‘5G wireless’. In 1991, the Clinton-Gore presidential ticket announced the “Information Superhighway’, a plan to rewire America by replacing the existing copper wires, (which could have been put in the ground or on the poles since the 1920’s), with a fiber optic wire that could handle video and thus provide competition to the wired cable TV companies.
Starting in 1991, throughout America, what is now AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink went state to state to get laws changed, just like this example in New Jersey, to convince the state utility commissions and legislatures that they were going to upgrade their existing copper networks with fiber optics — and that if laws were changed to give the company more profits, it would replace the existing copper wired with fiber optics.
New Jersey was one of the first to accept this type of alternative regulation plan, but almost every state had the same proceedings. (There were previous plans for an earlier broadband technology, ISDN, that used the copper networks. It was eventually given an apt nickname: “It Still Does Nothing”.)
Customers Paid for a Fiber Optic Wired Broadband Future — Which Was a Replacement of the Copper Wires as Part of the State Public Telecom Utility
In Connecticut, Southern New England Telephone, SNET, was not officially one of the original ‘Bell companies”, but it covers most of Connecticut. In their 1996 Annual Report, SNET laid out a plan called “I-SNET” — a statewide upgrade, REPLACING the existing copper wire with fiber optic wires for broadband and video — ALL SERVICES over a fiber optic wire. And it would spend $4.5 billion and be completed in 2007.
“I-SNET: According to the 1996 Annual Report:
“I-SNET is . . . a statewide telephony and information superhighway. Since 1994, the wireline business has been replacing its existing network of twisted copper wire with low maintenance fiber-optic and coaxial cable. The buildout of I-SNET, a $4.5 billion investment, is expected to be completed by 2007. This advanced network is capable of delivering voice, video and a full range of information and interactive multimedia services. I-SNET passed approximately 234,000 households as of December 1996, and is expected to pass approximately 334,000 households by December 1997. The support of this investment will be primarily through increased productivity from the new technology deployed and customer demand for the new services offered.”
And, as the next paragraph continues, this deregulation established “price caps”, where the price of basic services, defined as “Non-competitive”, was not increased for a few years, but the “Competitive” services allowed the profits to increase immediately. This included calling features, like Call Waiting or Caller ID, which are separate charges on wireline services, that range from $4.00-$9.00 per service per month, yet Call Waiting cost less than 1 penny to offer while Caller ID is under $.25 cents. And again, this was based on a commitment to do fiber optics as part of the state utility, replacing the existing copper wires — and the profits on calling features, etc. were allowed to be increased, with the assumption it was for new construction.
“In March 1996, the DPUC (State Public Utility Commission) issued a final decision that replaces traditional rate of return regulation with alternative (price based) regulation to be employed, effective April 1, 1996, during the transition to full competition. The decision contains the following major items: price cap regulation for non-competitive services; a five year monitoring period on financial results; and a price cap formula on services categorized as non-competitive (utilizing an inflation factor, a 5% productivity offset, a narrowly defined exogenous factor, a potential service quality adjustment and various pricing bands). In addition, basic local service rates for residence, business and coin may not be raised above current levels until January 1, 1998, at which time the price cap formula becomes effective for these services, unless they have been reclassified into the emerging competitive or competitive categories..”
Sorry for the telecom-jargon, but simply put, almost every state had changes in their state regulations to grant deregulation, i.e., price caps, to the companies for this fiber optic future. In CT, after the law passed, in a decade+, dividend payments doubled, and there was a drop of 60% in staff.
We filed a complaint with the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office in 2009 about the failure to roll out the networks and about the the merger with AT&T that shuttered any fiber networks that were being rolled out. And it’s been downhill in CT from there, with the sale to Frontier.
NO COMPANY BUILT OUT THE FIBER NETWORKS AS STATED, BUT THEY STILL GOT PAID.
NO STATE WENT BACK AND GOT REFUNDS OR LOWERED RATES OR ERASED THE LAWS** — some did try, however.
We wrote a trilogy of books to document these bait-and-switch deals. The latest: “The Book of Broken Promises; $400 Billion Broadband Scandal and Free the Net”
The State Public Telecom Utilities and Network Upgrades Are Not a History Lesson But Are Current To-Dos.
What we just discussed is not history but has current, real-world consequences as every state is now attempting to solve the Digital Divide problems that have been exposed by the so-called pandemic and most are just throwing money at it, with the same terrible results. But, it is time to recognize that there are still SPTUs and that they are not just for voice calls but all services, including broadband.
Take the situation in Minnesota, for example. A complaint dated October 20th, 2020 by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) against CenturyLink, discusses that there have been staff cuts and that
- these are utility networks
- they are not just for voice services and
- the law itself calls for continuous upgrading of the networks for video and data services.
The CWA Letter details that there is specific language discussing that the telephone company, CenturyLink, is a telephone utility.
“7810.3300 MAINTENANCE OF PLANT AND EQUIPMENT. Each telephone utility shall adopt and pursue a maintenance program aimed at achieving efficient operation of its system so as to permit the rendering of safe and adequate service. Maintenance shall include keeping all plant and equipment in good state of repair consistent with safety and adequate service performance. Broken, damaged, or deteriorated parts which are no longer serviceable shall be repaired or replaced. Adjustable apparatus and equipment shall be readjusted as necessary when found by preventive routines or fault location tests to be in unsatisfactory operating condition.”
Moreover, the utility networks are not just for copper-based phone service. The state laws are supposed to be encouraging an upgrade to “higher speed telecommunications”; this means that the entire copper networks should have been upgrading to fiber to offer, not only voice services, but high-speed connections for data and video services — for years.
“In addition, Minn. Stat. § 237.011 provides the State goals the Commission should consider as it executes its regulatory duties with respect to telecommunications services, including “(3) encouraging economically efficient deployment of infrastructure for higher speed telecommunication services and greater capacity for voice, video, and data transmission.”
As the Commission executes its regulatory duty to ensure CenturyLink maintains adequate staffing levels for telecommunications service, since the same technicians are used for both telephone and internet installations, maintenance, and repair, the Commission will be helping to achieve this statutory goal.”
In the next series of articles we will also address the most important issue — that the companies have been able to manipulate the FCC cost accounting rules and formulas to make the entire US wired infrastructure appear unprofitable — causing the Digital Divide.
- Link to Overcharged America: Solve the Digital Divide by Halting Billions in Cross-Subsidies — What Happened in Your State?
For those of you who claim that you want a broadband utility and funds to pay for upgrades and solving the Digital Divide — this is a call to action. State legislatures, public utility commissions, cities and Attorney Generals’ offices, need to start audits and investigations of the Big Telecom so the states can clawback the public utilities and halt the overcharges to local service subscribers, as well halt the cross-subsidies so that these funds can be used to complete the build out of universal access services that are high-speed and symmetrical to all homes, businesses and institutions. This will also lower prices through competition and choice.
We’ve laid out a roadmap that we filed as part of comments with the California Broadband Council about Governor Newsom’s broadband executive order.
In September, 2020 — 3.5 years after NYC sued Verizon over renegging on its franchise agreement — Verizon’s NYC cable FiOS franchise actually expired. So, the IRREGULATORS wrote two letters to the Mayor — to use this as leverage to get ALL of the City wired.
We also pointed out that the distribution of those who had not been upgraded to FiOS were primarily the low income areas — direct ‘redlining’ — and that violated the franchise agreement.
Contents of Letter 1:
Sept 23, 2020 Medium article : “Verizon’s NY City FiOS franchise has expired. Do not renew it until 100% has been upgraded to fiber optics . . .”
- Verizon’s NY City FiOS franchise has expired. Do not renew it until 100% has been upgraded to fiber optics
- This settlement that took years and the focus is — fiber to the home for the ½ million not served, starting in the low income areas.
- The settlement brings competition to areas where the incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC), Verizon, didn’t honor its commitments.
- This 1/2 million houshold fiber optic line installation will proceed in low income areas in the City, where Verizon was only offering, at best, copper-based DSL.
Verizon’s intention has been to substitute inferior 4G/5G wireless (with data caps). Fiber optic service currently doesn’t have data caps, it has a great deal more speed, is more reliable and is capable of handling a family stuck at home and spending a lot of time online.
At the core, however, Verizon’s inflated prices still need to be addressed, as competition is not lowering prices with just a duopoly.
Contents of Letter 2:
Sept 28, 2020 Medium article — “New York City Must Call for a Halt to the Billion+ Dollars of Cross-Subsidies and Overcharging by Verizon NY, the State Public Telecom Utility (SPTU).”
This letter laid out that the City should get Verizon to fulfill the commitment on the books. 100% of residences in New York City with fiber to the premises and offer FIOS, an internet and cable service. However, this will only be an expensive duopoly if there are cable companies in these areas.
The next step has to be audit the books and halt the cross-subsidies (from regulated Wireline service ot unregulated Wireless Service and Corporate Operating Expenses), which are evident in the Verizon NY Annual Reports. Doing so will lower prices.
Finally, our letter suggested getting the money for the penalties and fines that should have been enacted
– penalties for not giving services to those who were entitled to it and give these low income households serious discounts/ free services — for a period of time.
The IRREGULATORS worked on this franchise from the inception (before 2008) as this deal left out all requirements to serve small businesses. In 2012, we worked with deBlasio’s staffers about surveying the city to find out the extent of the deployment and in 2015 we suggested the City take Verizon to court, and to not let wireless act as a substitute for fiber optic connections.
NYC Lawsuit Against Verizon Pays Off in Fiber
NYC gets Verizon to Expand Fios Fiber Optic Broadband to 500K More Households
By Nolan Hicks and Natalie Musumeci, Nov 24, 2020 | Original NY Post article here.
The city has reached a settlement with Verizon, ensuring that the communications giant expands its broadband Fios service to 500,000 additional Big Apple households, including at NYCHA buildings, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday. The agreement secured by the de Blasio administration forces the telecom giant to expand access to its high-tech fiber-optic network in more than two dozen working and middle-class neighborhoods across the city — including wiring the public housing complexes in those communities for broadband.
Mayor de Blasio said during a City Hall press briefing.
“We’ve had a digital divide. We’ve had a huge disparity of who gets access to internet and who doesn’t, who gets reliable, fast broadband service, who doesn’t, who can afford it, who can’t. More and more, we understand that we have to create a society in which everyone has equal access.”
The settlement comes after the de Blasio administration sued Verizon in 2017 for “breaking the trust” of millions of New Yorkers by failing to bring its Fios cable and internet service into every household in the city as required.
The Manhattan Supreme Court suit claimed that the TV, phone and internet company reneged on a 12-year agreement signed in 2008, under the Bloomberg administration, to make its fiber-optic cable network available to everyone by 2014. De Blasio’s office said that many of the neighborhoods that have the most to gain from the settlement are within community districts hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis and low-income households.
The settlement Tuesday requires that 125,000 of Verizon’s new hookups be located in 10 different community districts that cover more than two dozen neighborhoods: the Bronx’s Hunts Point, Inwood, Fordham, Morris Heights, Mount Hope, University Heights, Bedford Park, Jerome Park, Kingsbridge Heights, and Norwood; Brooklyn’s Brownsville, Ocean Hill, Borough Park, Kensington, Ocean Parkway, Midwood, Bushwick, Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts-Gardens, and Wingate; Queens’ South Jamaica; and Manhattan’s Hamilton Heights, Manhattanville, Morningside Heights, Inwood, and Washington Heights.
The phone company also agreed to wire NYCHA developments that still need broadband hookups by April 2023. Those installations will count towards the 125,000 apartment mandate if the complexes are located in the priority neighborhoods, officials said.
Verizon will also be required to file regular reports with city officials about its progress towards meeting the goals.
New York City Press Release
Nov 24, 2020 | Original press release here.
Mayor de Blasio Holds Verizon Accoubtable to Connect Half a Million New York City Households to Broadband
Under the terms of the agreement, Verizon will build out Fios connectivity for New Yorkers, prioritizing the least-connected communities and NYCHA residential buildings.
NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced an advancement in tackling the digital divide in New York City by ensuring that Verizon builds out its FiOS footprint to 500,000 additional households, making high-speed fiber broadband available to more New Yorkers.
The agreement secured by Mayor de Blasio addresses disparities faced by low-income and New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) families across the city. Due to the corporation’s previous failure to connect many buildings, large portions of New York City neighborhoods are under an effective monopoly, with only one cable and broadband provider, risking lower speeds and higher costs. Under the settlement, Verizon is compelled to prioritize the least-connected Community Districts and ensure connectivity for every NYCHA residential building. The City began proceedings against Verizon due to the telecom’s failure to meet the terms of its cable franchise agreement, inked under the Bloomberg administration, to build out its Fios network.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said:
“Internet access is an economic right in New York City, no matter your ZIP code. Tech giants will not stand in our way to deliver high-quality broadband to New Yorkers – they must be a part of the solutio. COVID-19 has further exposed the inequalities in internet access while changing the way New Yorkers work, learn, and live. We will continue to hold any corporation that fails to deliver on its promise to New Yorkers accountable.”
As New York City charts a path to recovery, broadband is no longer a luxury, but an essential service to maintain health, receive an education, and access employment. In addition to ensuring Verizon will build out its network, the City continues to accelerate the NYC Internet Master Plan to systematically close the digital divide.
Deputy Mayor for Operations Laura Anglin said:
“As we plan an equitable recovery for New York City, closing the digital divide remains more urgent than ever. The Internet has the power to connect New Yorkers to social services, jobs, school and more. This settlement and the Internet Master Plan will ensure New Yorkers of all walks of life can access quality broadband.”
“This settlement will make sure that Verizon builds out its fiber footprint more equitably throughout New York City — especially in low-income communities that have historically been underserved by internet service providers,” said DoITT Commissioner and Citywide CIO Jessica Tisch. “This agreement attacks that unfair imbalance, and recognizes that high-quality internet is a necessity, not a luxury.”
“The New York City Internet Master Plan makes clear the need for more options in parts of the five boroughs that have been historically underserved by industry. This settlement will lead to more choice for New Yorkers, particularly those most vulnerable to the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said John Paul Farmer, New York City Chief Technology Officer. “With a focus on COVID-priority neighborhoods and an eye on racial equity, the City is working in unprecedented ways with large companies, small startups, and community-based organizations to increase choice, lower costs, and put New York City on the path to universal broadband.”
Corporation Counsel James E. Johnson said:
“If you are a child who needs access to an online class or a senior who wants to see a loved one, you know better than most how vital internet access is to daily life. We resolved this case so that more New Yorkers will have access to a vital tool. The pandemic has underscored this critical need. This resolution could not be more timely.”
Many of the neighborhoods that have the most to gain from this settlement are Community Districts that are hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic; with low median household incomes; and fewest options, if any for affordable broadband, including:
- Bronx 2 (Hunts Point, Inwood)
- Bronx 5 (Fordham/Morris Heights, Mount Hope, University Heights)
- Bronx 7 (Bedford Park, Fordham, Jerome Park, Kingsbridge Heights, Norwood, University Heights)
- Brooklyn 4 (Bushwick)
- Brooklyn 9 (Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Wingate)
- Brooklyn 12 (Borough Park, Kensington, Ocean Parkway, Midwood)
- Brooklyn 16 (Brownsville, Ocean Hill)
- Manhattan 3 (Alphabet City, the East Village, the Lower East Side, Two Bridges, Chinatown)
- Manhattan 9 (Hamilton Heights, Manhattanville, Morningside Heights)
- Manhattan 12 (Inwood, Washington Heights)
- Queens 12 (South Jamaica)
At a minimum, Verizon will make connections available to 125,000 additional households in these Community Districts, which means that if a resident requests paid FiOS service, Verizon will be required to make it available generally within seven days. Many New Yorkers lack internet connections at home and others have only limited broadband service.
The lawsuit and its settlement highlight the City’s commitment to holding franchisees accountable to meet their commitments to the public. The City’s franchise team will be closely monitoring Verizon’s performance for any slippage from the terms of this agreement and is prepared to ensure serious consequences for failure to perform. The settlement is subject to approval from the NYC Franchise and Review Commission and the Public Service Commission.
Today’s settlement will ensure that 500,000 households that previously lacked Verizon broadband access because of a corporate failure to invest in the necessary infrastructure will have the option of fiber broadband, and create critical cost competition in areas where today only one provider exists.
The terms of the settlement call for Verizon to report quarterly on their progress, and the City will make public the list of newly eligible households that were previously ineligible for FiOS or broadband service.
This settlement is complementary to other City-led efforts underway to achieve the goal of universal broadband, including the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion & Equity’s efforts announced in July to extend new low cost internet service options to 600,000 underserved New Yorkers, including 200,000 NYCHA residents, over the next 18 months.
New Yorkers need more from the companies that serve them – they need affordable service options. At a time when nearly a third of New Yorkers do not have home broadband, New York City’s Internet Master Plan has made the single largest capital investment by any municipality in the country to end the digital divide. The City will soon be releasing a solicitation for new open-access infrastructure and will engage new and existing broadband companies in serving New Yorkers with high-quality, affordable internet service options. It is critical that the private sector partners with the City to ensure New Yorkers are affordably connected to the internet.
Hard-wired internet connections are safer, more secure, and more reliable than 5G and WiFi (see 1, 2, 3). Cities worldwide AND entire countries have taken action to ban, delay, halt, and limit 5G installation AS WELL AS issue moratoriums due to health, safety, environmental and economic risks. American opposition to 5G continues to increase as well and has been the topic of several “Dilbert” cartoons.
Despite all of this, Trump is still advocating a nationalized 5G plan. The Department of Defense (DoD) wants to own the network and run it with Google. Legislators and organizations oppose this scenario as well (see 1, 2). Americans opposed to 5G are encouraged sign a petition asking President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris to stop deployment.
Activist Post reports regularly about unsafe technology. For more information visit our archives and the following websites.
- Telecom Power Grab
- The Irregulators
- 5G Information
- 5G Space Appeal
- Stop 5G International
- The 5G Summit
- Environmental Health Trust
- Physicians for Safe Technology
- Wireless Information Network
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