In 2008, Verizon promised New York City people that it would wire all corners of the city with high-speed fiber optic cable, bringing competition to internet, video, and phone service in New York City to improve service and bring down prices. Verizon promised to make high-speed, reliable, and affordable internet available to any New Yorker who wants it. Now, 7 years later, too many New Yorkers are waiting.
Common Cause/NY, Consumers Union, and Borough President Eric Adams sponsored a FiOS public forum on Tuesday, November 17th at 7 PM at Brooklyn Borough Hall. Obtaining Verizon FiOS and the impediments to obtaining that service.
AKNA Will Be Attending
Please join Eric Adams, Common Cause/NY and the Consumers Union
Tuesday, November 17th. All are welcome to attend and be heard. Click here to RSVP
A good place to look for current news on issues the Federal Communications Commission manages will be found in the New York Times’ Times Topics section. (here)
Albemarle Kenmore Neighbors Association
Before the advocacy effort began, the AKNA community, like many in the United States, streams their data through digital subscriber line (DSL) modems over copper telephone lines. These lines are in rapid, if not catastrophic, deterioration since their post-WWII installation. Other nations, recognizing the public benefit first and profit second, made high speed available to all as quickly as possible. The United States, on the other hand, requires a broad base of public support to advance a particular cause or policy. Democracy should be exhausting in furtherance of a cause, but not in obvious importance of advance communication services.
Wire or fiber provides for telephone communication and internet services such as entertainment media and an ever-widening range of services such as security and other home management devices. Apart from the annoyance of outages and disruptions sourced to the phone lines or extreme weather, this system works at a reasonable cost and meets most needs in the experience of very few residents. Releasing the consumer’s power to affect change has many pathways. One thing became clear. This community will watch its old system deteriorate, decay, buzz, and crackle, or it can work diligently to acquire reliable telephone and internet services.
Located in a diverse, moderate-income community, the Albemarle and Kenmore are sheltered by its high quality of historic district architecture. Value is competitive, and it includes how well information is delivered on waves of light and electricity. Verizon contributes directly to the failure of reliable cooper lines through disinvestment and only serves the community willing to fight them legally, and the list is very long.
The result of fiber is a low cost, fast connection that can be MOdulated and DEModulated, thus modem. The copper phone lines serving AKNA provide less than 7 Mbps (megabits per second). Most people experience less than two. Nevertheless, when converted by your modem to produce what you see on your computer, television, and other devices, these megabit packets are converted until they fail. When they do, there is no recourse.
Correctly installed cooper can produce up to 50mbps service. Fiber optic cable (named FiOS by Verizon and Optimum by Cablevision) is thin optically pure glass that carries information with light for low signal loss. Data moves at high speeds over greater distances. “Legacy copper “legacy” is retired, but getting installed without high-end market demand is why the war began.
Copper and Fiber
Copper wire transmits electrical currents and provides good speed for voice and data within a building. Still, from there to your phone company and internet service providers (ISP), such as Verizon or Optimum, things can change. The copper cable that telecom companies such as Verizon use are decades old, and much of it is not set up well. The failure of Verizon to bring optical fiber close enough to make a connection is AKNA’s central problem. The ethernet cable (pictured, top right) is only as good as the wire leading up to it.
Understanding internet speeds and bandwidths are important. Bandwidth is a measurement of consumed data resources expressed in bits per second (Mbps); it’s also referred to as maximum throughput. Fiber provides greater bandwidth than copper and has standardized performance up to 10 Gbps. (gigabits per second) Here is the tricky part, a cooper cable (e.g., Cat-6 cable similar to the picture top right) can relay 600 megahertz (MHz) over 100 meters.
Comparing megabits and megahertz is like comparing apples and oranges, but a short answer is 100MHz is equal to 200Mbps. The megabit (the apple) measures data bits while megahertz (the orange) measures frequency, two very different things, but cables like these can handle 1000 Mbps speeds (gigabit Ethernet) at 100 MHz. What AKNA needs is either material. What it does not need is the current rate of decay of the old lines.
Just like clean water, the telecommunications infrastructure of our community is important. Unlike our water, it is not entrusted to a well-thought-out public trust. It is sold at auction and licensed to corporations such as Verizon by the FCC, the City, and New York. When it is vital to think long term, the pressures from the top-down, federal to regional, state, and local seem to weaken the city’s broadband infrastructure. This is one of those sneaky problems because most city residents who want access to the internet have it. They don’t know how bad it is. In fact, the New York State Broadband Program Office, Annual Report 2012-2013 claimed erroneously that 97% of city residents had access to high-speed broadband. This is wool over somebody’s eyes. The reality is very different. Since then, the office has become more accountable. (See the Verizon NSA Scandal article link below)
The experience with broadband service by the city’s neighborhood businesses and residents is summed up in one word – unreliable. The likelihood of a blackout condition for telecommunications is a harsh reality. There is no backup, no hospital generator, and redundancy, such as switching from a Verizon account to Time-Warner Cablevision or others for service. This is a public/private arrangement in the licensing marketplace; however, a feeble regulatory structure allows the private sector to follow the money the same way, similar to the financial crisis of 2008. The city’s largest corporations in newer buildings enjoy high speeds (100 Mbps). Smaller firms, businesses, including new tech startups, located in older buildings do not. The state of the corporate mind is to avoid a gold standard approach at all costs. But, it is worse than that….
In the New York City Council’s response to the Mayor’s FY 2015 Budget and 2014 Report said, “Last year, Verizon agreed to pay the City $50 million because of delays in projects associated with the Emergency Communications Transformation Project, the large scale effort to transform and consolidate the City’s 911 Emergency Dispatch System.”
This speaks to the potential of an injurious relationship between Verizon and the needs of New York City’s residents. This and the June 2015 DoITT report require an earnest review of this relationship. It seems that instead of moving forward, this corporation has decided that New York City needs to be punished for demanding accountability.
- Consumer Broadband to compare FiOS with Optimum (If AKNA can choose)
- FCC Study Measuring Broadband America A Report on Consumer Wireline Broadband Performance in the U.S. If nothing else, read and comment on this story in the New Yorker on the NSA/Verizon Scandal
The dispute between Verizon and NYC started in 2014 when de Blasio said Verizon was breaking its promise to expand its Fios fiber-optic service citywide. Three years ago, the city sued Verizon for failing to live up to its installation agreement. Deploying fiber in dense metro areas is an expensive proposition.