Stop The Clock
Stop the Verizon NJ-State ‘Stipulation Agreement’
that Erases the Law and Your Rights.
Before March 24, 2014 (5PM) we ask you to drop an email to the State Commission and tell them to “stop the clock” – and to dissolve the proposed stipulation agreement between Verizon and the State. Instead, we ask that you back New Networks & Teletruth’s call for investigations of Verizon New Jersey and that the State uphold our ‘OPRA’ (Open Public Records Act) requests for Verizon NJ’s financials and other documents.
Write: [email protected] and include “Verizon New Jersey Docket NO TO12020155” in the subject of the email.
- FACT: By 2010, 100% of Verizon New Jersey’s territory should have been upgraded with a fiber optic service capable of 45 Mbps in both directions.
- FACT: If you, your business, your municipality or school had phone service over the last two decades – you were charged for these upgrades multiple times and in multiple ways.
FACT: Verizon New Jersey has been able to cut a deal with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) to erase all responsibilities to complete the network upgrades, leaving out about 50% of customers. And there has been no discussion of the estimated $15 billion collected for these upgrades. But it gets worse as Verizon’s next step is to ‘shut off the copper’ and force everyone who doesn’t get upgraded onto their more expensive wireless services.
- Is your community one of the “Have Nots”? Shouldn’t Verizon keep its promises – as you paid for these networks over and over?
New Networks and Teletruth have decided to take a stand. According to State-filed information, Verizon’s FiOS cable networks are only required to be complete 70 out of 526 communities and while there is a total of 352 Verizon claims they will upgrade, there is no requirement to do the entire town. And this means 1/3 of the municipalities aren’t being upgraded at all and about 50% will never get any service because of these lax requirements.
Of course Verizon has claimed it fulfilled its obligations and submitted documents outlining how they did the work. But, get this – they claimed that in 2001 they had over 50% of the State completed with 45 Mbps services. You know that’s just made up.
And the harms? Schools should have been upgraded to very fast fiber optics a decade ago and because the companies failed to deliver – both schools as well as the kids at home couldn’t get fast broadband at reasonable rates. The economy was hit as well as broadband should have been an economic driver in the State for the last decade, especially considering New Jersey’s extensive telecom history as Bell Labs and even the original AT&T were in Jersey.
We assembled a team of experts and filed multiple comments. We have made specific OPRA (“Open Public Records Act”) requests to see Verizon’s financials and are calling for investigations – BEFORE any deal with Verizon is closed.
Verizon has been using the monies that were supposed to upgrade the networks for everything from executive pay, lawyers and lobbyists, but also the monies are going to fund their wireless networks as well as other parts of their business. And they have been charging everyone, including low income families, small businesses or – you, with rate increases.
In fact, last year Common Cause, Consumer Union and the telecom union, CWA, filed in New York State against Verizon New York to see the books and called for an investigation. New Networks’ report was the centerpiece of these requests and many of these Verizon New Jersey issues are identical.
And higher cable rates? Verizon was supposed to be competing in the entire state, which would have lowered cable rates. Instead, many areas of the State don’t and won’t have choice or lower cable prices.
We say: Show us the Books. Show us the Money: Explain why the State wasn’t completely wired by 2010 with fiber optic, 45 Mbps services. How much money did Verizon collect for upgrades? And why are Verizon’s affiliate companies, like Verizon Wireless, getting perks, while rates keep going up?
This stipulation agreement is a slap in the face. It says that if there are any other companies offering anything equivalent to DSL over the old copper wires, Verizon doesn’t have to do anything. And if the customer doesn’t have anyone else, Verizon can take 9 months to supply service, and that can be Verizon’s more expensive wireless service.
Let us be clear; if this embarrassing give away goes through, Verizon will start shutting off the copper services in areas of the State. Lowell McAdam, CEO of Verizon told investors this is the plan. Your service goes out… too bad. Verizon’s CEO made $53 million in the last three years. Verizon has investments in over 365 companies in 150 countries. And they no longer care about their ‘wired obligations’ or the State of New Jersey.
We must add that after Governor Christie’s recently appointed chairman to the State Commission was in place, two weeks later this agreement was created to help Verizon and not help the State. Coincidence?
As of now the law is on our side. You, your town, schools and businesses are entitled to these upgrades that you paid for. We believe 100% of the State should be wired – or the company should return billions of dollars. But it is also time to stop Verizon’s financial hanky panky,
You want proof: Read our filings, our summaries, and an entire ‘case study‘ we put together and examine the list of communities that will not be upgraded.
So please take a few minutes and tell the State to “stop the clock”. If you file, please mention – New Networks’ OPRA requests should be resolved before any action on the stipulation agreement.
It’s time to stimulate economic growth, lower prices, choices for cable, broadband, Internet and phone service. Let Verizon Wireless compete, not collude with Verizon New Jersey.