Verizon is forced to fix 15,000 “double poles” and other network problems

Verizon and a union representing its workers have reached a settlement requiring the company to fix thousands of problems in areas of Pennsylvania where it hasn’t upgraded its copper network to fiber.

The settlement of the union’s complaint “will require the company to repair and replace bad cable, defective equipment, faulty back-up batteries, and to take down 15,000 double telephone poles,” the Communications Workers of America (CWA) said Friday.

Double poles occur when “Verizon has failed to move its equipment from an old pole that was replaced with a new one by another utility (e.g., the electric company),” the CWA said. “In many cases, these are dangerous conditions—poles are falling, leaning, rotting, partially cut off, etc.” 

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Study on AT&T’s fiber deployment: 1Gbps for the rich, 768kbps for the poor

AT&T’s deployment of fiber-to-the-home in California has been heavily concentrated in higher-income neighborhoods, giving affluent people access to gigabit speeds while others are stuck with Internet service that doesn’t even meet state and federal broadband standards, according to a new analysis.

“Because there is no regulatory oversight of AT&T’s fiber-to-the-home deployment, AT&T is free to choose the communities in which it builds its all-fiber GigaPower network,” UC Berkeley’s Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society wrote in a report released today. “Our analysis finds that AT&T has built its all-fiber network disproportionately in higher income communities. If this pattern continues, it has troubling consequences for low- and moderate-income Californians, leaving many without access to AT&T’s gold standard all-fiber network and exacerbating the digital divide.”

California households with access to AT&T’s fiber service have a median income of $94,208, according to “AT&T’s Digital Divide in California,” in which the Haas Institute analyzed Federal Communications Commission data from June 2016.

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Verizon spends $1B on fiber—but it’s for 5G wireless, not more FiOS

Verizon has struck a deal with Corning to purchase up to 37.2 million miles of optical fiber and related hardware over the next three years, with Verizon planning to use that fiber to boost capacity and lower latency in its wireless network.

“The agreement calls for Corning to provide and Verizon to purchase up to 20 million kilometers (12.4 million miles) of optical fiber each year from 2018 through 2020, with a minimum purchase commitment of $1.05 billion,” Verizon said in its announcement of the purchase agreement today.

The fiber will be used for network improvements “designed to improve Verizon’s 4G LTE coverage, speed the deployment of 5G, and deliver high-speed broadband to homes and businesses of all sizes.” But while Verizon mentioned both mobile and home Internet service, this doesn’t mean there will be any unexpected expansions of FiOS, Verizon’s fiber-to-the-home service.

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“Dig once” bill could bring fiber Internet to much of the US

Years in the making, a proposal to mandate the installation of fiber conduits during federally funded highway projects might be gaining some new momentum.

If the US adopts a “dig once” policy, construction workers would install conduits just about any time they build new roads and sidewalks or upgrade existing ones. These conduits are plastic pipes that can house fiber cables. The conduits might be empty when installed, but their presence makes it a lot cheaper and easier to install fiber later, after the road construction is finished.

The idea is an old one. US Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) has been proposing dig once legislation since 2009, and it has widespread support from broadband-focused consumer advocacy groups. It has never made it all the way through Congress, but it has bipartisan backing from lawmakers who often disagree on the most controversial broadband policy questions, such as net neutrality and municipal broadband. It even got a boost from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who has frequently clashed with Democrats and consumer advocacy groups over broadband—her “Internet Freedom Act” would wipe out the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules, and she supports state laws that restrict growth of municipal broadband.

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New York City sues Verizon for not completing citywide fiber network

 New York City has slapped Verizon with a lawsuit that claims the telecommunications conglomerate broke a 2008 contract to provide citywide fiber coverage, depriving residents of competitively-priced options for better television and Internet service. Read More

1 million NYC homes can’t get Verizon FiOS, so the city just sued Verizon

New York City today filed a lawsuit against Verizon. The city claims Verizon failed to complete a citywide fiber rollout by 2014 as required in its cable franchise agreement.

Verizon disputes the city’s allegations. The telecom giant says that it is not required to install fiber in front of each building. Meanwhile, nearly 1 million New York households do not have access to Verizon’s fiber-based FiOS service. Verizon says it has brought its network to 2.2 million NYC residences, while the city has an estimated 3.1 million households.

The city government’s complaint in the New York State Supreme Court seeks a declaration that Verizon is in breach of its obligations and an order to complete the project. The 2008 agreement, which gave Verizon a citywide cable television franchise, said Verizon must “pass all households” with its fiber-to-the-premises network by June 30, 2014. The agreement covered only cable television, but the fiber build-out also provided faster Internet speeds because the same fiber is used to deliver both services.

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AT&T allegedly “discriminated” against poor people in broadband upgrades

It’s no secret that ISPs can make more money from network upgrades in wealthy neighborhoods than low-income ones, and a new analysis of Cleveland, Ohio, by broadband advocacy groups appears to show that AT&T is following that strategy. The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) and a Cleveland-based group called Connect Your Community alleged in their report today that “AT&T has systematically discriminated against lower-income Cleveland neighborhoods in its deployment of home Internet and video technologies over the past decade.”

Last year, the NDIA brought attention to AT&T’s refusal to provide $5-per-month Internet service to poor people in areas where the company hasn’t upgraded its network. When the Federal Communications Commission approved AT&T’s purchase of DirecTV in 2015, the FCC required AT&T to provide discount broadband to poor people as condition of the merger. But the condition apparently allowed AT&T to charge full price in areas where maximum download speeds were less than 3Mbps. After the NDIA spoke out, AT&T announced it would stop exploiting the loophole and instead provide discount Internet to poor people in all parts of its network.

Today’s followup report from the NDIA and Connect Your Community analyzes FCC data on AT&T Internet deployments in Cleveland, where many residents were initially declared ineligible for the discount broadband service.

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AT&T lights up gigabit fiber in five new metro areas

AT&T is bringing fiber-to-the-home Internet to five new metro areas this month, boosting its fiber total to 51 metro areas in the US. Milwaukee, Wisconsin has AT&T Fiber now, and later this month the service will arrive in Columbia, South Carolina; Jackson, Mississippi; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Shreveport, Louisiana, AT&T announced today.

AT&T Fiber is available to nearly four million homes and businesses (up from three million in November 2016), but there’s still a lot of work left to put fiber in additional cities and expand deployment in those where it’s already available. “By mid-2019 we plan to reach at least 12.5 million locations across 67 metro areas with our 100 percent fiber network,” AT&T said. The company agreed to hit those numbers in exchange for getting its purchase of DirecTV approved in 2015.

AT&T has more than 15 million Internet subscribers in the US, mainly via the company’s old DSL network and its slightly newer fiber-to-the-node service that boosts speeds by putting fiber closer to each home. Fiber-to-the-premises is fastest of all, with download and upload speeds of up to 1Gbps.

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