By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Did Verizon pull a fast one on Marty Walsh?

At Universal Hub, cybah analyzes two Huffington Post articles by Bruce Kushnick, executive director of the New Networks Institute, and concludes that Boston Mayor Marty Walsh may have gotten taken for a ride by Verizon.

Let me cut to the chase: Apparently Verizon’s $300 million deal to provide FiOS broadband service to homes and businesses in Boston is a lot less than it seems. Instead, Verizon may be planning to install wireless transmitters on utility poles around the city for two reasons: (1) it costs a whole lot less and (2) it would allow the company to avoid being regulated as a full-fledged cable provider.

I have not delved into this deeply. This is more of an assignment-desk post: well worth following up by local journalists.

More: Additional context from local media and technology activist Saul Tanenbaum, writing for the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism.

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  1. May I add to the list of possible Verizon mysteries to investigate? My most recent bill included an extra coupon for $20.00 off per month, which looks like it will continue for a couple of years. Call me paranoid, but since I am not used to Verizon voluntarily giving me price reductions (in fact, I am used to an annual unpleasant negotiation with them to try to keep my bill from going up), I am wondering what’s up with that. So my question is whether this recent coupon is widespread and what it has to do with — I scrutinized the notes at the end of the bill to see if price increases are coming, but the only ones I saw were small ones about certain phone features and what looks like a cessation of the ability to receive collect calls.

    • Paul Hutchinson

      If you have copper wire coming into the house then check to see if the coupon offer gives them permission to replace the copper with fiber. The copper wires include large numbers of FCC mandated requirements that Verizon is anxious to eliminate. These include the fact that copper works without AC power and gives the consumer other guaranteed rights that fiber and coax do not.

      • It is described on my bill as part of my “Internet discount.” I have Fios Internet. On a customer support webpage, Verizon says,
        “FiOS Service Verizon
        “FiOS Internet Service uses fiber optic technology to deliver phone and broadband Internet service to your home.”
        So that makes it sound to me as though I haven’t had copper wires since I got Fios. I also know that if I have no power to my Fios system (AC or back-up battery), I have no landline service.
        Since I am no techie, I will leave it to you to secondguess what I’ve said. And thank you — and your idea would be in keeping with my sense, from experience, of how Verizon operates.

      • For some reason WordPress is not allowing me to reply to Diana’s reply so I’m sticking it one level up.

        Verizon may or may not have physically removed the copper when they installed fiber for your FIOS. When they first started installing FIOS they routinely removed the copper but that got them some very bad press when some customers wanted to end FIOS and go back to copper (they asked the customers to pay a lot of money to have the copper re-installed). So for a while they where leaving the copper along side the fiber to avoid the issue. I believe they’ve since re-written their forms to make it clear to the customer that going back to copper will cost a bunch of money.

        So there is no way for me to tell without physically looking at the installation if you still have copper available.

        • Thanks.
          I guess I’ll just have to wait to see in the fullness of time whether there’s a catch to this new discount I started receiving last month.

  2. Ethan Forman

    Transmitters on poles. So much for fiber to the premises.

  3. Here’s all of the city documents about the VZW deal. Includes a lot of detail about the network and wouldn’t support the idea that the city got lied to.

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