Tag Archives: new york

Verizon threatens to end NYC FiOS service over lawsuit

by Steve Blum • , , ,

New York City is suing Verizon for failing to build out fiber to the home service to all residences as promised and Verizon might retaliate by yanking out television service citywide. And stroppy landlords are making it a three-cornered fight.

Like any legal dispute that’s measured in billions of dollars, it’s a complicated affair. But one of the central issues is Verizon’s problems with getting access to apartment buildings and condos – multi-dwelling units (MDUs).

Landlords have not been particularly cooperative. Whether it’s because they have profitable arrangements with other video service providers or they think they can get something out of Verizon or they’re simply being obstinate, they’re preventing a million households from getting FiOS service. At least as Verizon tells it.

As the city sees it, though, Verizon is playing a game. If one landlord blocks access to his property and there are apartment buildings behind it, none of them get FiOS upgrades (h/t to Ars Techica for the documents)…

Verizon’s current position, as stated in correspondence and meetings with the City, is that fulfilling the “premises passed” obligation does not, with respect to a given premises, necessarily involve running fiber immediately in front of or behind the premises. Rather, Verizon has asserted, it should be deemed to have “passed” an individual building if it has run fiber to a nearby intersection and could access the building with further deployment of fiber. In particular, with respect to MDUs, Verizon has argued that an MDU should count as “passed” as long as Verizon intends eventually to run fiber to it, not directly from the street, but rather through an adjacent MDU or a chain of such MDUs, whether or not Verizon has obtained access to any of the MDUs from the property owners.

Verizon responded by saying, in effect, we were so simpatico with New York City that we didn’t have put all that in writing, and threatening to leave the market

Verizon has the option of opening negotiations for a renewal of the Agreement in July. Unfortunately, the City’s intransigence does not create a favorable environment for such negotiations. We would urge the City not to make it impossible for Verizon to continue to provide New York City residents with a competitive alternative to cable TV.

It’s certainly true that landlords can and do block access to competitive broadband companies. San Francisco has taken a different approach and outlawed the practice. That’s yet to be tested in court, though.

Charter is ripping off Internet subscribers, says NY attorney general

by Steve Blum • , , ,

Time Warner Cable executives deliberately under provisioned and over promised Internet service to its subscribers in the State of New York and Charter Communications is allowing the practice to continue, claims New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman in a lawsuit filed earlier this week. It’s a follow on to an investigation kicked off in 2015.

Charter purchased TWC in May 2016. It took over operation of systems and customer equipment that couldn’t delivered speeds that were advertised or that customers purchased and “even now, [Charter] continues to offer Internet speeds that we found they cannot reliably deliver”, Schneiderman alleges. TWC went so far as to rig speed tests run by the Federal Communications Commission, according to the lawsuit

[Time Warner Cable] leased older-generation modems to over 900,000 subscribers in New York State…However, [Time Warner Cable] knew that, in practice, these older-generation modems were incapable of achieving the Internet speeds its subscribers were led to believe they were paying for…

[Time Warner Cable] managed its cable network in a way that did not deliver the promised Internet speeds over any type of connection. It cut corners by packing too many subscribers in the same service group, which resulted in slower speeds for subscribers, especially during peak hours. It also failed to add more channels for each service group, which similarly resulted in slower speeds for subscribers…
[Time Warner Cable] further deceived the FCC by manipulating the average Internet speed results in the FCC’s speed tests. The company inflated the average speed results by providing increased Internet speeds when service groups were less utilized to offset (and conceal) test results showing slower speeds when the service groups had heavier usage. By gaming the FCC speed tests in this manner, [Time Warner Cable] concealed the fact that it failed to consistently deliver the promised speeds to its subscribers under actual network conditions.

Charter’s response to an enquiry from Ars Technica blamed TWC but stopped short of admitting there was actually a problem or promising that it would actually fix anything.

Unexpected U-turn as FCC lets New York manage broadband subsidy money

by Steve Blum • , , ,
By Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York (IMG_4305_4) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The new federalism.

Who would have thought that the Federal Communications Commission’s first significant decision of the Trump era would be to take money originally designated for its no-incumbent-left-behind broadband subsidy program – Connect America Fund 2 (CAF-2) – and use it to top up reasonably competitive state grants, with the state calling the shots?

But that’s exactly what happened.

In 2015, Verizon turned down the CAF-2 money on offer in its wireline territory, except for the systems that it was selling to Frontier Communications, which did want it. The FCC is working on a competitive bidding process for the census blocks rejected by Verizon and others, but the State of New York asked for an exception to made, so the subsidies could go into the New NY Broadband Program instead.

On Friday, the FCC said yes.

The $170 million that would have gone to Verizon will go to winning applicants for New York’s broadband infrastructure subsidy program. The federal money will be given as a one to one match for state subsidies awarded in CAF-2 eligible census blocks, but only up to the maximum amount that the FCC originally designated for those blocks.

The FCC’s order says New York can get the job done faster than it can…

We find that New York is uniquely situated to quickly and efficiently further our goal of broadband deployment. New York has committed a significant amount of its own support—at least $200 million—to…its broadband program that is designed to be compatible with and achieve the goals of Connect America Phase II. Moreover, New York is poised to quickly implement the next phase of its program in a matter of months so that deployment of broadband of speeds that meet or exceed the Commission’s baseline requirements for Connect America can be achieved while the Commission is in the process of finalizing and implementing the Connect America Phase II auction.

Virtually all the CAF-2 money that the FCC offered in California was accepted (CenturyLink turned down $300,000 to serve 45 homes in Modoc County), so the New York decision can’t be cloned here. But the FCC has shown a new willingness to work with effective state broadband programs, rather than at cross purposes. These are interesting times.

New York orders Charter to upgrade analog to digital

by Steve Blum • , , ,

The New York state public service commission approved Charter Communications’ purchase of Time Warner cable systems, but added a list of conditions that included digital upgrades and speed increases. According to the decision, Charter…

…must convert their existing New York footprint to an all-digital network (including upgrading the Columbia County Charter cable systems to enable broadband communications) capable of delivering faster broadband speeds. The Petitioners will be required to offer all customers broadband speeds of up to 100 Mbps by the end of 2018 and 300 Mbps by the end of 2019.

Plus, Charter has four years to built out cable systems to 145,000 homes with nothing at all, at a hefty price…

The Commission expects that New Charter will have to invest approximately $305 million to meet these conditions, made up of (1) $290 million to reach 145,000 premises not currently passed by any cable network and (2) $15 million dedicated to advanced network upgrades to Charter’s Columbia County cable systems. These amounts are based on an estimate of $2,000 per premises passed and costs derived from past build-outs associated with the Connect New York grant program.

Charter actually offered to upgrade the one New York analog-only system it currently owns earlier in the proceeding. That’s contrary to the position it’s taking here where it’s stonewalling requests to upgrade the hundreds of thousands of analog-only Californians who live in Charter’s redlined areas.

There are other conditions attached to the New York approval. Charter has to live up to its promise to roll out a discounted service plan for low income households and participate in New York state’s broadband infrastructure subsidy initiative, which is similar to but not as well endowed as the California Advanced Services Fund program.

The deal still has to be approved, or not, by the FCC and the California Public Utilities Commission.

New York attorney general says ISP speed matters more than disclaimers

by Steve Blum • , , ,

It’s gotta at least be in the ballpark.

The New York attorney general wants Time Warner, Cablevision and Verizon to explain how they manage they manage the Internet connections that they sell to consumers, and how they do business among themselves and with other telecommunications companies. Letters sent to the three companies point to the disconnect between what’s advertised, what’s sold and what’s actually delivered.

The letter sent to Time Warner Cable is typical (links to the others are below)…

This Office is concerned that, for reasons substantially within TWC’s control, consumers may not be experiencing the speeds advertised. We are also concerned that those paying for premium options (“Ultimate 300” and “Extreme”) may not experience proportional increases in experienced speeds.

Our concerns can be placed in two groups. First, that the speeds made available over the last-mile (between the home and cable headend) may deviate far enough from the speeds advertised to render the advertising deceptive. Second, that the impact of technical and business decisions made at the point of interconnection between TWC and other networks may so affect end-to-end throughput that the speeds are not what was promised. In this respect, we are specifically concerned about disruptions to the consumer experience caused by interconnection disputes, and also the possibility that interconnection arrangements may in some instances render irrelevant any benefit of paying for a “premium” option.

The New York AG wants the companies to take responsibility for a subscriber’s end to end connection, in other words middle mile bandwidth, peering agreements and such are under their control too, little different from the initial link from a subscriber’s home to the local office.

But just forcing cable companies to clean up weasel worded ads and terms of service would be a huge step forward. When a subscriber – home or business – buys service advertised at, say, up to 100 Mbps, there should be a reasonable expectation of getting that most of that speed most of the time.

No comments from the companies as yet.

Letter to Cablevision
Letter to Time Warner
Letter to Verizon