Verizon: Cable monopoly, property access hampered its New York City FiOS build

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) told the New York City Council during a hearing this week that it has met its obligations of homes passed with FTTH and that property owner disputes have hampered its ability to reach a number of potential customers.

In recent months, Verizon has faced criticism from the Communications Workers of America (CWA), which is in the process of negotiating a new labor contract, claiming it has not fulfilling its FiOS deployment promises in New York City.

CWA workers say that Verizon has refused to repair its copper infrastructure and is instead referring customers to its VoiceLink service, a claim that the telco says is not true.

Perhaps even more damning was an audit conducted by the New York City's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications found that Verizon failed to deliver on its promise to provide fiber-optic service for television and broadband to anyone who wants it by 2014.

Verizon told city councilors that one of the key challenges it has faced in delivering service to more customers is getting permission from property owners and landlords to extend its fiber network infrastructure into their facilities.

Unlike the cable operators, which were able to enjoy a monopoly on the city's video services markets, Verizon has faced a number of uncooperative building owners.

"The incumbents likely faced far less opposition from apartment building owner/managers than Verizon now faces," Verizon said in its testimony obtained by FierceTelecom. "This is because a building that denied access to the incumbents would not receive any cable television service at that time, whereas residents in buildings that deny access to Verizon today will in most cases simply not have the benefit of a second provider in the building."

Verizon said that requests for FiOS service were delayed or turned down because it could not get access to the property.

"Verizon's ability to install its facilities in the building in response to a service request can be either delayed or denied because Verizon does not have the requisite authority to access the private property," Verizon said. "While Verizon works diligently to pursue access consistent with the agreement, the fundamental reality is that Verizon cannot control the behavior of landlords or property managers."

The service provider also defended its buildout strategy in the city. It said that is has installed new FTTH facilities, including Optical Line Terminals (OLTs) in its wire centers to deliver video services in all 66 of its wire centers in the City.

Another issue is the definition of homes passed. Under the current definition, Verizon said it has passed every home in the city "by running its facilities along the entire length of the block on which a building is located."

"At a high level, this "pass all households" obligation involves placing the necessary fiber backbone facilities throughout New York City so that the fiber optic network can then be extended into specific buildings upon request," Verizon said. "It does not mean -- contrary to some public confusion -- that Verizon's network would have been extended into every New York City household." 

Related articles:
New York City Council to hold hearing on Verizon's FiOS progress
Verizon could be sued by NYC over reportedly broken FiOS promises
New York City audit says Verizon failed to deliver on FiOS promise
Verizon faces pressure from unions to expand FiOS into new markets
Verizon's Frontier sale gives it a contiguous Northeast FiOS footprint, says Shammo