Public Forum by BP Ruben Diaz,Jr, and Waiting4FiOS Coaliton
NEW YORK, NY (09/22/2015)(readMedia)– Bronx residents turned out at Hostos Community College on Monday night to discuss the rollout of Verizon FiOS across the borough. Co-sponsored by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., the Waiting4FiOS coalition as well as State Senator Gustavo Rivera, State Senator Jose Serrano, Assemblymember Michael Blake, Assemblymember Luis Sepúlveda, Councilmember Annabel Palma, Councilmember James Vacca, Councilmember Ritchie Torres, and Councilmember Fernando Cabrera, “Verizon FiOS in New York: Bronx Public Forum to Discuss the Verizon FiOS Rollout” allowed participants to describe their considerable frustrations with their inability to access the FiOS product, which was guaranteed to all New Yorkers under a Franchise Agreement signed with New York City in 2008. At the forum, Verizon invited Bronx residents to email their FiOS-related questions to a special email account: BronxFiOS@verizon.com.
An audit by the NYC Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications this past June confirmed what residents and some businesses have experienced, that Verizon has failed to live up to its obligations under its franchise agreement. Under the agreement, a complete fiber optic buildout of the entire city was supposed to have been accomplished by November 2014.
This case has broad implications, not only for the state of telecommunications regulation in New York City and New York State, but for the ability of residents in NYC to equitably access reliable high speed internet service. Such services have become a necessity to full participation in modern society, government, and our economy. Because of this, advocacy groups Consumers Union and Common Cause/NY formed a coalition, Waiting4FiOS, and website www.waiting4fios.nyc to collect stories and launch a petition urging Verizon to complete the buildout of FiOS under the terms of its franchise agreement with NYC.
“It seems that Verizon has not lived up to the promises made when they signed their Franchise Agreement in 2008, of providing service across all the five boroughs,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “We live in an age of technology where we are dependent of our computers, smart phones, and tablets to do business, or work on school projects, or process our investments or even just check on our fantasy league teams. Without reliable high speed internet service, for better or for worse, we become disconnected from the world. It is imperative for Verizon to keep their end of the deal in order to provide quality service and options to residents in The Bronx and all over the city of New York.”
“Verizon made a promise to make FIOS available to all New Yorkers,” said Council Member James Vacca. “We are 7 years past this promise and we still have hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers without access. It’s time Verizon makes good on its promise and finish the FIOS rollout.”
“For years, I have heard complaints from residents in my district, who have attempted to sign on to the Verizon FiOS service, but learned their area did not provide coverage, “said Council Member Annabel Palma. New Yorkers need affordable and reliable high speed broadband access throughout all the five boroughs, but especially in the Bronx. Access to the internet has become a necessity for our day to day tasks-whether it’s used for a child’s homework assignment, or paying bills; the internet has become an essential element in our lives. Verizon must keep its promise to provide broadband access across our city. We need it now.”
“All New Yorkers deserve to have a choice when it comes to choosing high speed internet and cable, that’s why so many people were excited when Verizon agreed to bring FiOS service to New York in 2008. Seven years later it’s the everyday citizen who’s still waiting for FiOS. Bronx residents deserve answers and I am excited to co-sponsor this event to bring more attention to this important issue,” said Assemblyman Luis Sepúlveda.
“Having access to high speed internet connectivity plays an important role in ensuring our communities can thrive in their academic, professional and personal lives,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “This public forum will help us highlight the need for Verizon to fulfill its commitment to wire all of New York City with high-speed optical fiber cable and hopefully bring us one step closer to ensuring that all New Yorkers are equipped to function with the technology of the time.”
“Common Cause/NY is dedicated to the principle of universal telecommunications service, and take consumers’ rights to reliable service extremely seriously. High speed internet is no longer a luxury, but a necessity,” said Josh Mumm, Outreach Manager, Common Cause/NY. “Verizon is obligated to provide FiOS to all New York City residents, and its violation of the franchise agreement is unacceptable. Many of our members complained that they have been told their neighborhoods, blocks or buildings simply aren’t going to be getting FiOS and that there is nothing they can do about this. We want Verizon to fulfill its promises and obligations to New Yorkers by completing the work they are contractually obligated to perform.”