Mass. mayors plead with Verizon to bring FiOS to their towns

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) may be sticking to its guns that it won't build out FiOS to any new markets, but that has not stopped the mayors from Peabody and Salem, Mass., from pleading with the telco to build out its FTTH service in their towns.

Mayors Ted Bettencourt of Peabody and Kim Driscoll of Salem have sent Verizon letters asking the telco to connect homes and businesses in their cities with fiber.

Similar to other communities like Buffalo, N.Y., and parts of New York City, the two city leaders of these North Shore Massachusetts towns say they continue to get inquiries from residents that would to get an alternative service choice besides Comcast or a satellite provider.

"The number of calls I've gotten on this topic," Bettencourt said in a Cape Cod Times article, "are as much as I've gotten on any other topic."

Bettencourt added that he has gotten "thousands" of pleas from residents that want FiOS service. Joining Bettencourt in promoting his letter were members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) union, which performs installation and maintenance on Verizon's wireline network assets.  

Joining the IBEW in asking Verizon to bring FiOS to more communities is the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union, which is in the process of negotiating a new labor contract with the telco.

Earlier this year, the CWA began distributing flyers to consumers in New York City. It has argued that Verizon has not met its commitment to bring FiOS service to all residents by the end of last year and that many consumers still can't get service today.

In his letter to Robert Mudge, EVP at Verizon, and Tami Erwin, SVP and group president for consumer/mass business markets sales and service, Bettencourt said that by installing FiOS Peabody would "improve overall quality of life for its residents" by providing "a world class communications infrastructure."

Not all of the North Shore Massachusetts leaders agree with Bettencourt and Driscoll.

Mike Cahill, mayor of Beverly, said they are "focusing on other options," and are talking with an alternative provider.

For its part, Verizon said that it has no plans to bring FiOS to these communities and will focus on fulfilling the franchise agreements it has in place.

"We have responded to the municipal officials, thanking them for their interest and informing them that we have no plans to expand FiOS," said Phil Santoro of Verizon Media Relations. "[We] are focused on completing the network build-out commitments we have made to communities where we already have franchise agreements."

It's not hard to understand these city leaders' frustrations, particularly as the telco has built out fiber in a number of neighboring North Shore towns, including Marblehead, Danvers, Ipswich, Swampscott, Topsfield, Wenham, Hamilton and Lynn.

For more:
- Cape Cod Times has this article

Editor's Corner: Does Verizon's CAF-II refusal mean another wireline asset sale is coming?

Related articles:
Verizon faces pressure from unions to expand FiOS into new markets
Verizon's Frontier sale gives it a contiguous Northeast FiOS footprint, says Shammo

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