We’ve noted a few times how Verizon has a rich history of taking taxpayer money, subsidies and tax breaks, then promising fiber deployment that never occurs. When it then comes time for local municipalities to hold the telco’s feet to the fire, campaign contributions ensure any investigation is short lived. It happened in Pennsylvania, it happened in New York City, and it recently happened in New Jersey, when state officials let Verizon off the hook for a 1993 promise to evenly deploy fiber across the state in exchange for billions in benefits.
Shortly after state officials let Verizon walk away from its obligations, they also granted Verizon exemption from regulations requiring it continue servicing DSL customers whose lines were paid for in large part thanks to billions in subsidies. As we’ve noted, companies like AT&T and Verizon are hanging up on customers they don’t want to upgrade, and forcing them instead to notably more expensive and capped wireless services. Many customers would prefer Verizon maintain or upgrade their fixed-line broadband connections, since they’ve paid an arm and a leg for them.
About fifty annoyed municipalities have now formed an alliance aimed at holding Verizon’s feet to the fire. Collectively, they’re trying to explore ways to hold Verizon accountable, require it to deliver promised upgrades, or at the very least maintain existing DSL lines until something better comes along. Verizon’s response? To mock these people as Luddites:
“But Verizon New Jersey spokesman Lee Gierczynski has called this “misplaced fear” resulting from “misinformation and misunderstanding about copper networks, fiber networks and the reliability of those networks.” “This is a classic example of how some people fear new technology so they reactively reject it instead of accepting it, no matter how irrational that fear may be,” Gierczynski said.