New York City Sues Verizon Because 1 Million Homes Can’t Get FiOS

Back in 2008, New York City gave Verizon a city-wide cable contract with the contingency that Verizon made a commitment to bring their FiOS fiber-optic internet to the entirety of the city by 2014. It’s now 2017 and more than 1 million homes in NYC can’t get FiOS, so the city has sued Verizon, claiming they breached their agreement.

NYC claims the contract states Verizon is, “required to install fiber optic cable–in underground conduit, along above-ground utility poles, or otherwise–in front of (or behind) each residential building.” At the time, Verizon agreed to those terms, they say.

For their part, Verizon denies the allegations, saying their contract doesn’t mandate bringing a fiber internet connection to the front of every single building. With more than 2 million installations, they say, the remaining households are “non standard” installations.

But Verizon hasn’t brought fiber to all residences, and has failed to meet current requests for service, the city claims. “Verizon has failed in many instances,” their law suit says, “to timely complete installations as requested by potential subscribers, leaving such New Yorkers without the desired television service.”

The problem seems to be with the definition of the word “pass” in the initial agreement. Essentially, Verizon claims a home has been “passed” if wires are near enough to a building that it could be services in a “reasonable time.” The city interprets that as having a connection as every building.

Verizon adds that for the residences they haven’t serviced yet, it’s the landlords fault for not allowing access. But city officials say some landlords have sought installation, but Verizon didn’t come through.

Should things continue to devolve and NYC pull Verizon’s license in the city, it would certainly shake up the city’s cable landscape. But of course, as streaming services like DIRECTV NOW and Sling TV become more popular than ever, what cable companies do becomes less and less irrelevant.