New Jersey Should Get Mad as Hell and Say:
I Want My Fiber.
Contact: Bruce Kushnick,
Verizon’s FiOS cable franchise is up for renewal and we believe it should be denied and customers should scream —- I Want My Fiber.
The New Jersey Broadband Scandal: Why You Deserve a Fiber Optic Future
Did you know that Verizon New Jersey (VNJ) has obligations to supply 100% of its customers with a fiber optic service, capable of 45 Mbps in both directions and the old copper should have been replaced completely by 2010? Called “Opportunity New Jersey”, (ONJ), state laws were changed in 1993 to give Verizon billions of dollars to replace the aging copper wire with a fiber optic “information superhighway.
If you are or were a NJ Verizon customer you paid about $4000-$5000.00 for a fiber optic service you never got, not to mention lower cable, phone, internet and broadband prices because of competition. That comes to over $15 $16 billion dollars for the state and counting as there’s been numerous rate increases.
To add insult to injury, in 1997, “Access New Jersey” was created to wire the New Jersey schools and libraries with broadband—you paid for it via excess phone charges.
In 2005, Verizon filed for a system-wide cable franchise for FiOS cable service, which only required 70 municipalities to be fully wired – out of 526 communities. Verizon has 352 munis with some wiring in them, but no plans to do the state. Meanwhile, the NJBPU never examined the previous ONJ commitments during the creation of the franchise.
But in a strange twist, two small towns, Greenwich and Stow Creek, complained to the State that Verizon neglected to give them quality phone services much less the upgrade to 45 Mbps. In 2012, the state issued a ‘show cause order’ to Verizon asking what happened. Verizon of course claimed they completed 100% of the state – New Networks outlined that Verizon had probably 50% of the state done.
In 2013 – We won. Verizon conceded and in June 2013, Verizon submitted a plan to wire these two towns—but Verizon has no plans to do the rest of the state, much less give 100% of the State fiber optic services, or even cable services.
Verizon is asking for a renewal of their cable franchise, even though about1/3 to 1/2 of the state isn’t getting upgraded. Worse, Verizon has told their investors they plan to shut off the copper and push people on wireless. Verizon refused to even fix the wires in Mantoloking NJ after Sandy and pushed them onto Voice Link wireless, which can not do faxing or even alarm circuits.
- Customers paid about $4000-$5000.00 to have a 45 Mbps bi-directional fiber optic service, and the monies continue to be collected as they are ‘built into the rate increases.
- We estimate that over $15 billion dollars was collected from 1993-2013.
- Most customers never got cable competition or even fast broadband competition as Verizon never showed up.
- One of Verizon’s corporate funded think tanks claimed that a lack of cable competition cost customers an estimated 15-40% more.
- Verizon claims “In the five plus years since the Board granted Verizon a system-wide franchise, Verizon has invested more than $2 billion to deploy cable television service.” No they didn’t. If they did Verizon’s construction budgets for 2007-2011 would have increased $400 million per year extra for the cable service. The only way this happened was to charge phone customers for the development of the cable service—i.e., cross subsidize the cable service in basic phone rate increases.
- Verizon writes: “Under its system-wide franchise, from 2007 through 2011 Verizon paid almost $62 million in franchise fees Municipalities and the State.” No they didn’t. Verizon passed through a 5% franchise tax that was for by cable subscribers—Verizon probably paid $0.00 or even made money on the deal.