Friday, October 09, 2015

Title II universal service obligation could bolster cities' case in Verizon FiOS buildouts

Like NYC, Pittsburgh Claims Verizon Didn't Meet FiOS Promises | DSLReports, ISP Information: While Verizon long-ago froze further FiOS deployments, the company did strike sweetheart deals with numerous east coast cities that gave the city a citywide franchise and numerous tax benefits, in exchange for the promise of full city FiOS coverage. But as we noted at the time, most of those agreements came with fine print that allowed Verizon lawyers to wiggle over, under, and around any uniform fiber deployment obligations. Shockingly, cities like New York City are now thinking about suing the telco for missing deployment promises.

You can add Pittsburgh to the list of cities who believe they were swindled by Verizon. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has, several years later, started noting huge coverage gaps in the city's FiOS coverage. Peduto was one of 14 Mayors that recently wrote a letter to Verizon begging the company to upgrade its lagging DSL networks.

The U.S Federal Communication's Commission recently promulgated regulations classifying Internet as a common carrier telecommunications service and subject to universal service obligations under Title II of the Communications Act could strengthen the cities' case against Verizon. Local governments have successfully asked the FCC to intervene on their behalf when legacy incumbent providers used state laws to bar municipalities from building their own fiber telecom infrastructure. They could do so in this instance as well in a major test of the FCC's willingness to hold big incumbents accountable under its new rules.

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