In 1996, the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) deregulated telecom services in NY, promising that increased competition would bring down prices for cable, internet, and phone service and improve service, including bringing high-speed internet to all New Yorkers. Instead, 20 years later, New Yorkers are paying too much and getting too little while a digital divide based on access to information grows, and good-paying jobs are lost. The PSC has started a proceeding to evaluate the state of telecommunications in New York State by issuing a report by its staff (the report is called Staff Assessment and can be accessed here). They have set up public hearings throughout New York State in July and August 2015 (See Update in Oct 2015 here)
The New York City hearing Wednesday 15 July 2015 (See AKNA Testimony)
Common Cause/NY urged anyone concerned with the state of telecommunications (internet, cable, and phone) to testify. A robust turn-out by public and tech community members will get the PSC smart to the real state of telecommunications in New York. If Verizon lies to us, why not to the PSC?
Goal: reliable, affordable high speed internet, cable and telephone service
Following is some of the experience at the AKNA
In early 1972, the telecom schematic for the south side of Albemarle Terrace was drawn as part of a general order to document telephone installations. This is followed by three orders #21710 (1976), #96727 (1982), #27483 (1994), and a final notation to the schematic made in 2001 that looks like the phrase expressed by the term “SNAFU.”
In the Fall of 2001, Verison installed a splice in a good shaft on the gable wall of 2126 Albemarle Terrace was installed. It seals telecom lines for the south side of the terrace (buildings in the photo above on the right). There are no further revisions made to the Tabular Record for Account Code 32C, Tax District 500 P for C.O. Area Brooklyn 050 Division. This is the last recorded project. The result of the reconstruction of “Ragga Muffin,” a retail clothing store on Flatbush Avenue, led to the removal of phone lines on their roof to the roof of the adjacent Kentucky Fried Chicken.
In the Spring of 2011, Cablevision (Optimum) was rolling out 75 Ohm drop cable to the two terrace blocks and sent a representative door to door to pre-sign up customers. They were offering to buy out any Direct TV subscribers who had contracts.
They started, but some of the neighbors (mistakenly) asked them to stop because Cablevision was cutting into the sidewalks and patching them with asphalt. Some homeowners were concerned that they would then be open to Landmark violations because of the damage to the sidewalk and/or responsible for the cost of repairing or replacing the damaged sidewalk sections.
Note: the NYC Landmarks Commission would be concerned, but their jurisdiction is limited to the facades of buildings on the Terraces. Violations to the facades of the district would be the subject of a lien on the property by the City of New York on the property that would have to be cleared before a sale. As for all the rest (gardens, and so on), our care and sensitivity are expected.
Eventually, Cablevision repaired the sidewalks with cement, but Cablevision stopped the fiber rollout. A tragic circumstance of blaming the victims and lack of public leadership in basic enforcement of franchise agreement. Nick and Raina (of Kenmore) called Cablevision several times, trying to get them back. Getting past the customer service reps is impossible, and they have no idea and cannot help.
In the Fall of 2013, AKNA conducted a survey to use the information to lobby for assistance. The lesson learned here was to have the lobbying strategy in place before taking the survey. See the survey data here.
In the Fall of 2015, two Optimum technicians put a ladder up the gable wall of 2126 with a huge spool of 75-ohm drop cable to serve their commercial clients. And in the Spring of 2015, a series of Verizon technicians entered the south side of Albemarle Terrace (even numbers) to repair landlines. The story on the north side of the block is long and needs to be told. I put a brief video presentation for AKNA here to describe our deplorable telecom conditions.
In the Summer of 2015 residents of the south side of Albemarle Terrace managed to get the attention of a Verizon Engineer who after considerable analysis presented a plan for moving forward for the south side and for all of the Terraces with one caveat — the permission of residents to move forward.
As the Summer of 2016 began to fold over the hope of a Spring installation suggested on the “right of way” documents we signed, a draft was a letter written. The intent is to send it to everyone our small band of patient believers could influence. The first draft read as follows:
We are 390 people in 140 households that have bent over backward to get Cable Vision, Time-Warner or Verizon to provide us with service. We recently completed a project led by Lourdes, Engineering (NJ) in contract with Verizon Engineering with all of the forms required of us to assure the provision of service. Like Cable Vision and Time-Warner, Verizon remains unavailable for comment or the courtesy of a response due to ‘contractual issues’, and franchise agreements all seen by us as the haze of the telecom wars, union/corporate misdirection coupled with the ineptitude of public agencies and political representatives.
I hope you have staff on this or committees put to the task but first find out who is buying their lunch as nothing is happening, information is not flowing and in a democracy, only one group of people pay the price of failed leadership in the brave new world of too big to fail.
In closing, we remind you of Margaret Mead and her point about not doubting the ability of a small group of people to change the world, as it is the only way it ever has changed. We, therefore, leave you with this one thought that we are just 140 households, and given our history of patience, we are now very interested in creating change. Look us up.
Then as winter settled in we received this note:
The local deployment team has indicated that construction is underway.
Barring any unforeseen delays, service will be available in January 2017.
You will receive confirmation when you can place an order for service.
Representatives from the local deployment team met with Mr. Rex Curry,
the owner of 2126 Albemarle Terrace, and went over different design plans.
He indicated that he will be in contact with all of his neighbors and will
relay information to the association. You might want to check with him for
more specific information.
Thank you and best regards,
Verizon FiOS TV | Sr. Consultant, Contract Management
Video Franchise Management Team
One Verizon Way, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920
Rex Curry did meet with some of the guys from Lourds, but not about schedules or sharing update information. But, as you all know we are beg for forgiveness kind of group. The first rule of management Will be, information weakens as it moves toward the top, while decisions remain best when made closest to the source of the relevant information.
The Hopeful Prologue
Well, who knew it would take so long to get service? Our work ranges from being super polite and meeting some really nice people from V to conducting work with enraged groups of researchers trying to find out what is going on. We may never know what worked or didn’t work, but we can always ask for forgiveness.
P.S. if you care to respond, please do so through the website so that all our residents can participate. Anyone wishing to add something about the “existing condition” of your phone, satellite, or internet service, please do so in the COMMENTS section below.
A summary of the communication and data services currently in use by house number would also help us assess needs and/or compare costs. This data was )compiled. Those willing to share ISP provider data (DSL modem, satellite, and so on) and the monthly cost say so, and IT team will follow up directly. It will be used to update the first AKNA Survey