Verizon has agreed to fix failing copper networks and boost fiber deployment in New York, two years after state officials began investigating the quality of Verizon landline phone and broadband service.
A settlement with Verizon "will require the company to repair 54 central offices across the state, replace bad cable, defective equipment, faulty back-up batteries, and to take down 64,000 double telephone poles," the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union said last week. "The agreement also includes increased broadband buildout to major apartment buildings in New York City and more than 30,000 homes across the state."
Verizon reached the proposed settlement with the union, staff at the New York State Department of Public Service, and the Public Utility Law Project of New York. The four-party settlement is still subject to approval by the state Public Service Commission (PSC).
The PSC began reviewing Verizon service quality in March 2016, seven months after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman asked for an investigation into "whether Verizon is adequately upgrading or repairing its copper wire infrastructure."
Also in 2015, "CWA, 20 allied organizations, and 70 legislators filed a request for an investigation, providing substantial documentation of Verizon's failure to maintain its copper network," CWA said.
More fiber, but not for everyone
The settlement calls for fiber deployment at an additional 24,000 to 32,500 businesses and residences around the state, although most of these are dependent on Verizon receiving state broadband grants that it already applied for. The deployment number agreed to in the settlement is in addition to those that would otherwise be required under the grant program.
There will also be fiber upgrades for some New York City customers whose copper lines have repeatedly failed.
"Verizon will identify 100 copper-fed building locations in New York City with a high incidence of repair visits by technicians and will replace the existing copper facilities to those locations with fiber optics," the settlement says.
Verizon was required to bring fiber to every customer in New York City by June 2014 under an agreement signed in 2008, but many residents still lack fiber service. The city filed a lawsuit against Verizon; the telco claims it met the requirement to "pass" all households and blames building owners for not allowing access to certain properties.
Under the new settlement, Verizon would have two years to complete the 100-building requirement, "subject to delays caused by access issues."
The new settlement gives Verizon four years to remove 64,000 "double poles," which can cause dangerous conditions. Double poles occur when "Verizon has failed to move its equipment from an old pole that was replaced with a new one by another utility," according to the CWA.
Verizon would have two years to fix copper problems at central offices that haven't met performance standards.
CWA called the settlement "a big victory for New York consumers." Verizon said the proposed settlement "reflects a reasonable resolution of this contested proceeding and… directly responds to the service quality concerns," according to FierceTelecom.
The CWA reached a similar settlement with Verizon in Pennsylvania last year.