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New York City sues Verizon for failing to provide fiber broadband to all households

The city of New York is suing Verizon for the carrier’s failure to provide fiber internet to almost a million of its residents. The company signed a contract in 2008 to make its high-speed Fios broadband available to every household in the city — estimated at some 3.1 million residences — but so far has only made the service available to 2.2 million households.

The lawsuit, filed in the New York Supreme Court, states that Verizon is in breach of its original 2008 agreement. It comes after two years of back-and-forth between the city and the carrier, with New York officials attempting to push Verizon into providing additional Fios coverage without litigation.

Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized the carrier in a statement released alongside the suit, saying that “Verizon must face the consequences for breaking the trust of 8.5 million New Yorkers.” Verizon, meanwhile, said that de Blasio and his administration were misinterpreting an agreement made under his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg. ““The de Blasio administration is disingenuously attempting to rewrite the terms of an agreement made with its predecessor and is acting in its own political self-interests that are completely at odds with what’s best for New Yorkers,” it said in a statement. The carrier says it has already fulfilled its contract by passing fiber cables past every home in the city, and that it does not need to connect them to every individual house and apartment.

The company also took aim at de Blasio’s timing for the suit. “On a day where the city is preparing for the biggest blizzard of the season, it’s sad that the mayor’s focus is on pursuing a frivolous lawsuit,” a Verizon spokesperson said, specifying that the carrier would fight the city’s allegations. It also made vague threats relating to its business in the city, saying that it employed 4,000 people, and planned to spend $1 billion over the coming years, but that “the city’s intransigence does not create a favorable environment” for it to renew its Fios franchise with New York.

New York state officials have shown a recent willingness to face down major tech companies in court over their failures. Earlier this month, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed against Charter Communications, arguing that internet speeds were 80 percent slower than advertised. De Blasio, who was elected in 2013, also indicated a willingness to continue the battle in court, saying that “no corporation — no matter how large or powerful — can break a promise to New Yorkers and get away with it.”

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