Verizon, New Jersey regulators reach settlement on wireline broadband commitment

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) reached a settlement with New Jersey regulators over whether it fulfilled a commitment it made in 1993 to deliver up to 45 Mbps broadband service throughout the state by 2010, reports

Although the New Jersey State Board of Public Utilities (BPU) said in 2012 that the telco did not make good on its promise, it voted unanimously on the settlement. By doing so, it confirmed the notion that using a wireless-based LTE technology is suitable to deliver broadband to customers that can't be served by copper-based DSL or its fiber to the home (FTTH) service.

Dianne Solomon, BPU president, said that there was "clearly confusion" over the telco's original plan known as Opportunity New Jersey (ONJ). BPU added that the service provider was not obligated to deliver fiber-based broadband to consumers.

The regulator said that by reaching this settlement, which is called a stipulation, it will be able to forgo what could be potentially years of court battles to enforce Verizon's broadband agreement. What's more, Verizon does not have to provide broadband service to customers who already get service from a local cable operator or who can get a 4G wireless service.

While this is an apparent victory for the telco, which has been expanding more of its focus on wireless, a number of rural community leaders like Gregory Facemyer, a member of the Hopewell Township Committee, said that "Verizon is getting a free pass."

Not surprisingly, Verizon praised the BPU's decision.

"Today's ruling is great news for the state's consumers and builds upon the success of Opportunity New Jersey," Verizon said in a statement. "It brings certainty to the state's broadband market, giving Verizon New Jersey customers a request process to bring broadband to unserved communities."

Verizon added that its "network investments in New Jersey have made it one of the country's most wired states in terms of broadband infrastructure, far exceeding what was contemplated by ONJ, and we are eager to move forward and work with communities to deliver the benefits of broadband to them through this process."

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