This Is What Happens When You Let A Monopoly Own The Last Mile

From Business Insider:

Verizon won’t be able to hit its deadline to bring its FiOS fiber internet service to all residences in New York’s five boroughs by the end of June 2014.


In 2008, Verizon made an agreement to bring FiOS to any New York resident who requests it within six months.

I’ve been asking Verizon to bring FIOS to the condo apartment building the Gotham Gal and I built since 2007. They keep promising and they keep breaking those promises. That’s what monopolies do.

I hope the folks to run the FCC, the Federal Government, and local governments realize that Verizon are not to be trusted and neither are their lobbyists. They are the worst. I can’t believe we allow them and their brethren to continue to control the last mile access to the Internet here in the US.


Comments (Archived):

  1. David Semeria

    This is remarkable and, to us Europeans at least, pretty un-American.What was the logic in allowing local communication monopolies?

    1. fredwilson

      incentive to build it out, i guess

      1. Gabriel

        I’m sure very few telcoms in the world would want to service NYC without some extra incentives, after all.

  2. jason wright…”He spent six years in the U.S. Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps and is a licensed professional engineer.”build a houseboat.

  3. jason wright

    Berlin insisted that networks in Germany rolled out LTE infrastructure for rural populations before metropolitan populations. Corporate power in the US ridiculously out of balance within your society.

    1. jason

      Exactly. Lobbyists buy trust, it is not earned.

  4. awaldstein

    This grates on me often.Bascially BS and not a lot of recourse to do much about it.

    1. jason wright

      in NYC how are the other essential utilities of life managed?

      1. awaldstein

        Like clean air?

        1. jason wright

          water, and electricity and gas, as routed utilities.air quality is predominantly a function of transportation choice.

          1. awaldstein

            That was a joke ;)water is water is a commodity and on and on.connectivity is not a commodity.

          2. jason wright

            but is the connectivity monopolized?

          3. awaldstein

            That’s the point of Fred’s post. Not clear what you are looking for here.

          4. jason wright

            comparative analysis

  5. Pankaj Garg

    In india, this problem is faced everywhere, DTH, Broadband, Mobile….

  6. Tom Labus

    The seem immune to public humiliation!

  7. anon

    Obviously Verizon Fios isn’t a monopoly if you want to bring it to your building and it’s not there already. Do you have no access to high speed broadband today if Fios doesn’t overbuild to your house?

    1. smfullman

      Their monopoly status is derived from having exclusive access to roll fiber to the home. Whether or not they choose to do it does not indicate their monopoly power, just how they are using that power.

      1. Peter Radizeski

        VZ does not have exclusive access to roll fiber to your home. Cable can bring it in with its right of way and so can any licensed CLEC.

        1. smfullman

          You’re right, in most cases they do not have exclusive _legal_ access to your home, however they still have monopoly power because 1) they are one of the few corporations/entities that have the capital to deploy such a network 2) they have a gentleman’s agreement with all the other companies who do have such capital to not compete in the same markets (…. Further, when new entrants arise, they have the ability to block them through legal means (…. This is why Google Fiber is so exciting; they have the money to build the network, they are not an incumbent ISP/don’t mine ruffling feathers in this area, and they have the capacity to endure a legal battle.

          1. ShanaC

            Why is the Ftc not getting involved in the gentleman’s agreement

          2. Techman

            Cable companies are really quite interesting for having agreements to not compete with eachother in certain markets. It’s kind of like they are teaming up to still screw you over, except each party gets their own turf to screw you over in. Nice, isn’t it?

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      I love your down to earth practical realism on this issuebecauseits a mile wide and an inch deepthus accommodating enough room for us to all get thoroughly soaked !

  8. Salt Shaker

    Not sure why TWC advertises so aggressively in NYC. It’s not like consumers have much of a choice. I guess cause they’re trying to hold onto pay TV subs, which are in serious decline, while gaining on the broadband front. Verizon said they were on the verge of wiring my building with FIOS….that was 2 yrs ago.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Jim + meme generator = awesome

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      So let’s see if I’m getting your metaphor/allegory right here ?Buzz is having a woody on about the new Net Neutrality rules.

  9. Salt Shaker

    VZ stock has been solid performer. EBITDA has grown at annual rate of over 13% since 2008. A company not exactly under duress, although I do think they’re leaving money on the table. Conversion rates would sky rocket w/ broadened avail.

  10. christopolis

    you want the people who misuse their monopoly on force to fix your problem with the monopoly, good luck.

  11. pwhite

    In reality, broadband services are essentially duopolies – there is the “cable co” and the “telco” both selling primarily the same services. They are “allowed” this status because there is no better way – imagine if many companies could rip up the streets, pull wiring, connect to building, etc. Then imagine what would happen when some of these companies failed as businesses, or took short cuts and someone got hurt.While not perfect, the duopoloy is a pretty good structure for this type of infrastructure intense business. Has anyone seen a better system???

    1. Salt Shaker

      Yes, laying cable/fiber is a very capital intensive biz. I get that. But if a company secures the right to market its services in a specific municipality, then it should be obligated to deliver those services. Verizon doesn’t operate that way. It’s still unavailable to many NYC residents…and there’s no strong pressure for them to give consumers the choices they deserve (and were promised).

  12. Barry Nolan

    The duopoly that is the FCC/Operators destroyed in 15 minutes of unparalleled satire by John Oliver.…

    1. fredwilson

      that was fantastic

      1. AlexandreArchambault

        John Oliver has a new fan! Informative and amazing delivery to top it off

      2. Barry Nolan

        Video of the week arrives early. A stunning monologue.

    2. jason wright

      in the interests of fairness the other side in this debate should be allowed the right of reply;

      1. Barry Nolan

        I see Netflix blogging today pouring cold facts on ISP fictions

        1. jason wright

          i pose this simple (even simplistic, but i’m not concerned about seeming foolish) question. which group is more important to US GOV, the cable companies, or its data gathering bitches?

    3. Andrew Kennedy

      dingo bit is amazing

    4. ShanaC

      He’s often better than the original Jon, Jon Stewart

    5. Prokofy

      But it isn’t destroyed. It’s only destroyed for the in-group that already believes this collectivist nonsense.I watched it and it did absolutely nothing to change my mind about the essential battle here between Google and its ecosystem and the telecoms, which it hates because they are essential competition.Oliver also never grasps that bandwidth is a scarce research nor explain why some companies should be forced by the state to pay other companies’ business costs.

      1. Barry Nolan

        Quick question. When you signed up to your say 20meg broadband contract, did the contract exclude certain services – YouTube, amazon Prime, Netflix?

  13. Lucky

    I agree. Let’s hope google fiber gets here soon . I hear great things .

  14. Anthony Serina

    The cable companies know exactly how to stick it to the customer. My old apartment a couple of years ago always lost the signal and the screen would go blue. 30 minutes waiting on hold with customer support, never given a credit for lost service. They essentially do whatever they want. I would love to see them crumble.

  15. Scott Barnett

    They punted on providing FIOS in our neighborhood in NJ altogether. Most of the towns immediately surrounding us have it…. we don’t. Without (hopefully) getting into a big political argument, this is where I do think Government plays a role – for services like connectivity, have the Gov’t lay the infrastructure and allow *multiple* players to compete to offer the services on top of that infrastructure.

    1. Maqx-Dsqs

      Many municipalities have been scared off from doing this sort of thing by… the monopolists! They threaten jobs, service, political funding, etc…

  16. Maqx-Dsqs

    Verizon does not want to get to the last mile in NYC for afew reasons. First, it’s unionized labor pool makes installing the lastmile…. expensive. (At least to itself) Second, cable tv packages are on thedecline and dare I say it, will be disrupted by the current trends in the next5 years with the cord cutting movement. Why would it spend a lot of money andgo out of its way to put fiber to the last mile for a service whose primarycash cow – cable tv subscriptions are declining? – And last, there is no guarantee that they will fully convert a building. Some like their TWC just as it is. Verizon really, really hates that they can’t get a monopoly on a building.Now some might say that the revenue from the internetservice might offset those costs. Perhaps if Verizon does Comcast/Netflix style deals…. Maybe. We’ll never know asthey hold that kind of subscriber package data close to the vest and given theuproar over Net Neutrality, they cannot bank on being able to charge forpreference. So given this uncertainty, why bother with making a noble push forthe last mile in NYC when they’ve got lucrative cash cows to milk in mobilewhich is where their real money is being made? It’s also much easier andcheaper for them to deploy greater mobile bandwidth. Add this to the fact that the NYCor NYS government can’t really doing anything substantive in reaction to their”agreement” and you’ve got the current situation.NOW… WHAT IF…..???You are in a condo or co-op, or any multi-tenant building.You want FIOS or Fiber Internet from someone else?Why don’t you collectively buy your own access to the last mile?? Seriously. What would it take? You would need: 1. A fiber router/switch of some sort – lets call it the “box” 2. Fiber connections from the “box” to each tenant unit 3. A connection from the “box” to the closest FIOS/alt provider Point of PresenceWhy sit around waiting for Verizon to do all the work?Arguably, item 3 would be the most difficult part. But given the density ofManhattan – it should not be that difficult. I would bet that you could do theabove faster than waiting for Verizon to get it done. And, in so far as theconnection to the POP – perhaps other nearby commercial buildings with existingconnections could lease excess bandwidth for a fee? Distance to POP reduced. Soskip Verizon altogether.How to administer this? A non-profit corp could be createdamongst many buildings which would hire a few techs to ensure the networkoperated. Maintenance of the physical part could be done by the installationcontractor. A billing system is easy to create from off the shelf software.How to finance this? Everyone in the building pitch in. As acapital project, it should be able to be depreciated. I’m certain that privatecontractors will cost less, even if unionized. I used to spec infrastructurelike this for data centers and buildings. It’s not that expensive. Another scenario is that condos and co-ops that get a connection to a POP can become POPS themselves with any extra bandwidth they get. They can in turn re-sell to others in the immediatevicinity.So there you have it, at a meta level a fiber optic meshnetwork that grows a node at a time. And all nodes both serve their tenants andprovide excess to others for a fee. I’d even bet that once this is built, it’d more resilient to failure than the current config of one POP link per building.Why does everyone mope around waiting for the big utility to serve them?Why has no one done this in NYC? Elsewhere? Are thereregulations/laws against it? Why should we sit around waiting for a monopoly to serviceus? People are walking away from the utility-customer paradigm with solar. Let’s meet them ( the providers) half way, and if they don’t want our service, then we’llgive it to someone else. Someone will definitely want all that internettraffic.…….Audentes Fortuna Iuvat…….

    1. ErikSchwartz

      You touch on a really important point here. Right now the capex of a build out is amortized over two (or 3) products. TV, Internet and phone. As TV subscriptions and phones decline the natural result will be the rise in the price of internet access. Just because a subscriber only wants one of the services it doesn’t cost less to pull the fiber.

      1. LE

        As TV subscriptions and phones declineOften neglected when people complain about the people with the right to dig is that any business decision, especially ones that are long term and cost billions, involves risk.In retrospect people forget that the cable companies that locked up areas did take risks in doing so because it’s impossible to predict the future and what the public will do or new technologies that come along.In any case, other than the lack of availability (that Fred mentions), the pricing of these things is pretty good for what you actually get. At least compared to health care and education.

      2. ShanaC

        They’d move to metered pricing quickly if Internet was reclassified

        1. ErikSchwartz

          I think metered internet based on consumption volume is inevitable.

      1. Maqx-Dsqs

        Thanks for the link! That’s exactly what needs to be done. Giving the matter some more thought, “citizens net” would work really well in Manhattan if POP reuse is done with existing fiber tenants. The connects to other buildings won’t even require pipe laying civil engineering which is where much of the cost goes. (Fiber would be connected in exterior and/or interior pipes connecting buildings. It is done for other things.)Imagine a block with a commercial building(s) that already have Fiber. During the day, few residents are home and need the bandwidth but in the evening, night and weekends, all that commercial bandwidth goes unused at the peak times for residential use. Kaboing – anyone heard of the sharing economy? Maybe it’s time to build some biz models…. 🙂

    2. Techman

      Time Warner Cable absolutely sucks. Having Verizon FiOS would be great for folks who would love to escape frome TWC…

  17. bsoist

    We have FiOS and we love it, but we treat Verizon as the necessary. They will say anything to get your business. One of their executives and two engineers sat across the table from me and promised me they would run new copper phone lines from down the street across the property and into the building. Guess what? – never happened.It also took 30 – 60 minutes on the phone with Verizon sometimes for them to locate the account. I actually hired someone else to handle the phone calls for me – it drove me nuts.Just remembered, I have a new story about Verizon “support” related to the burglaries at our home. I used to post these stories on my blog, but I decided I was sounding too much like a whining brat. It’s a funny story, though. Maybe I’ll post on one of those hater sites ( I know they exist, but I’ll have to find that part of the Internet ).

    1. Dave Pinsen

      We’ve got FIOS. One of their techs knocked on our door a year or two ago with a better deal than our previous provider. So far, so good.

      1. awaldstein

        Digging up the suburbs is a no brainer compared to here.They have spent 6 years! digging up four blocks of Chambers Street to repair piping and electrical.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Here, most wiring isn’t buried, but run above ground on telephone poles. That’s cheaper, but more vulnerable to storms and accidents. A nice use of stimulus money would’ve been to bury some of it.

          1. awaldstein

            That explains a lot. Thanks.Here, nothing can run above ground. Therein lies the issue.There is no easy answer for the majority of population of the world that lives in urban centers.

        2. LE

          Well agree that digging up in the city is a cfuck but keep in mind that the city density means you get more potential customers per foot dug and problem encountered.Suburbia is spread out. My development has perhaps 300 homes (and has Fios btw) but I’d imagine in the same area of NYC you could have 100 times (that’s totally a guess to prove a point) the potential customers.And I’m not even talking about areas covered by tall buildings either in NYC.Another possibility is that the underlying infrastructure of broadband in NYC can’t handle the last mile. Meaning that lines going into the city and within the city can’t handle the increase in traffic and it’s not entirely a digging problem.(I don’t know if that’s the case I’m just throwing it out there as someone who deals frequently with pings and routers. For all I know they have tons of capacity but that is not guaranteed by any means.)Here’s an example. In my office complex I do backups. I get pretty decent speed almost always (with Comcast at the office). But when I am doing a backup on the weekend or after 5pm I can definitely see a big speed difference vs. during the day. That’s because I’m in a medical complex and, well, the doctors aren’t working nights and weekends. At my house it’s the opposite. (And it’s 2 miles away).And that’s with just about 55 or 60 offices here. I’ve driven out of NYC and picked up literally 50 wifi’s at a street corner on my iphone. And in an area of walk ups, not high rises.

      2. LE

        Are you sure it was a “tech”? In our area (and others I believe) Verizon outsources the door to door sales to 3rd party companies that get paid for conversions and are pretty aggressive. Hiring students or similar.The techs are union guys (most likely) so it’s hard to believe they were knocking on doors and cold calling.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          No, I am not sure. It was a couple of years ago.

    2. LE

      It also took 30 – 60 minutes on the phone with VerizonYou know back in the day when they would say “let me put you on hold and I will look up your account” that was just a way to multiplex with many customers at once.So instead of this:(100% customer one) – (100% customer two) – (100% customer three)You get this:(1/3 customer one) – (1/3 customer two) – (1/3 customer three) – (1/3 customer one) – (1/3 customer two) – (1/3 customer three) (1/3 customer one) – (1/3 customer two) – (1/3 customer three)The worse part is when they are all formal and full of shit with the “and we do appreciate your business and do apologize that …”

      1. bsoist

        I did customer service for J Crew in the late 80s. Our supervisor would start sending people home if less than 4% of the callers were giving up on hold. They did the same thing in order entry ( but at 2% ).As a business decision, I understand it, but something about it just seems wrong – “we are answering too many calls, let’s start sending people home!” 🙂

  18. Richard

    There has to be more to the story? Find out who profited by the delay and you’ll find out.

  19. Zach Stevens

    It’s expensive to pipe internet out to every home, which is why it hasn’t happened — but it’s also why they have a natural monopoly. I’m generally in favor of smaller government, but in situations like this where there isn’t a NPV in the project, I’m in favor of using public funds to get it done and provide internet for everyone.

  20. jason wright

    speaking of monopolies, how does this Google clock work (i assume it is a clock)?;

    1. Josh

      It’s a binary counter

      1. jason wright

        thanks Josh. how does it work?

          1. jason wright

            it is :-)i’ll add my own geek factor contribution. i stumbled across this clock as i explored Corvinus University in Budapest;…the vertical axis is the hours, and the horizontal the minutes.i don’t think it will catch on.

  21. alan

    Business Class Broadband in Manhattan is worse. The situation in Brooklyn and Queens is worse than that. In Manhattan for example, there are approx 21,000 office buildings (Class A, B, C). Of this, only 500 have one unique fiber provider. The other 20k buildings are wired with either old Verizon copper and cable. From the low 40’s midtown south to the edge of wall street, east and west, tens of thousands of businesses, large and small struggle with poor broadband.One answer to the problem is fixed wireless, which is ready for primetime.Alan

    1. Peter Radizeski

      There are a number of CLECs (alternative telcos) that can deliver Business Internet to your building. The problem is likely that you want $100 broadband and that’s the exclusive domain of the Duopoly.

  22. CarolJThayer

    They will say anything to get your business. One of their executives and two engineers sat across the table from me and promised me they would run new copper phone lines from down the street across the property and into the building. Guess what? – never happened.

  23. pointsnfigures

    I see both sides to this coin. Agree with Fred, I hate monopolies etc and think there should be competition. On the other hand, it takes a lot of infrastructure to bring fibre to each place that wants it. There is value in it, so they should get paid.The FCC has created this-the corporations responded to it. If the pain point was big enough, or solvable-shouldn’t someone else come up with new technology that circumvents the existing technology? I know in HFT, they are transmitting info via laser/lightwave tech from point to point. It’s faster than cable. Not always reliable though.Virtually every industry has successfully lobbied the government regulatory agency that oversees it to create barriers to entry via regulation. That’s why we need smaller, not bigger government and things like the block chain, the unbundling, network beating hierarchy are sooooo appealing. Freedom and independence win out in the end.

    1. awaldstein

      How does this relate to the actual pain and cost of digging up the streets of a city like NYC to lay fiber?In concept I agree. In actuality, I don’t see how this address the reality of fixing the situation.

      1. pointsnfigures

        I am not a technologist, but it seems like to me there is a massive pain point in tearing up streets or running cable through the air. If you can figure out how to sidestep that, you will create a competitor.… is a way they are sidestepping in HFT. I know Michael Persico and had lunch with him when he started this company.…I don’t know if they could do the last mile on internet or not, but it seems like the technology is there.

        1. awaldstein

          I so want this to be so.This will dramatically change the landscape as high speed everywhere and affordable in a vertical dense reality like NY is a game changer.

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      Sure maybe the USA also need smaller government ?But first things first !The USA, at least from the outside looking in, looks like it needs governance to become more independent from big money puppetry.How bad is it ?It’s this bad !

      1. pointsnfigures

        First, wealth inequality isn’t a telling economic stat. Name a time in human history when we didn’t have it. We actually have less inequality today than we did 50 years ago. It’s also easier to become wealthy if you take the right risks, and choose the right path. Luck happens, but wealthy people work for it-they don’t win the lotto. Second, it’s big govt that causes the firms to lobby to get the regulation. George Stigler did great economic research on that.

  24. RacerJim

    Don’t look to a solution anytime soon as Obama has recommended the appointment of a major telecom lobbyist to head the FCC.

  25. Dan Epstein

    Perhaps not your type of investment, but do you ever see pitches from folks trying to compete with the big telcos? I’m hoping yes.

  26. andyswan

    Unintended consequences to government action, citizens demand more government action. Story at 11.

    1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      OK Andy – that I liked – erudite and sharp #

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      Filed under the theory that Lobbyists are citizens too !Filed in the same folder with “money is speech” 😉

    3. Travis

      The, the government action we would like is protection of citizens by preventing monopolies and oligopolies, not the protection of telecom giants by allowing them to continue merging into larger and larger entities.

  27. rfreeborn

    Wonder how long it is till wireless makes last mile issues like this irrelevant. It may not be a 100% solution, especially in RF unfriendly areas like NYC, but it could/will have a huge impact down the road.

    1. Eric Jensen

      we had towerstream for a year in manhattan and it worked pretty well. much lower latency than i expected (<10ms ping!) and only really went down momentarily at the start of heavy rain/snow. their tech support was awful, but the tech itself mostly worked, definitely a big improvement on the oversubscribed manhattan cable modem network. still it’s obviously much better to have fiber

  28. Eric Jensen

    We signed a contract with Time Warner to get fiber to our office since fios wasn’t available. 6 months and $50k (sincere thanks to…) later, I’m still getting emails like this:As stated I do not scheduled appointments. I only project manage construction. Someone from our installation department should reach out to you this week with a date and time for your appointment.Best Regards,Project Coordinator

  29. Patrick Kershaw

    Fred, I had an interesting conference call this week with various major telco’s on our plays against other major competitor telco’s in differing markets and the opening comment from a senior market CEO was this… “You need to understand we are all arrogant c$nts and we will eventually figure out how to get what we want… We have more money, more time and more resources than you… So ultimately you don’t have an edge, you have a limited timeline..”… Having been on both sides of the equation, wonderful to get such insightful and accurate advice from a friend of a competitor… The ‘dumb pipes’ are still very very aggressive.. And the care factor for the consumer is close to zero in the grand scale of the market execution plan

  30. Peter Radizeski

    While Verizon is part of the Duopoly, the problem is that the Public Utility Commission, the State Attorney General and the FCC fail time and again to enforce rate hike agreements and merger conditions. Over and Over. At least you live in NY where you have choice. Call Stealth Comm. who may have fiber near you.

  31. baba12

    Mr.Wilson, sir as much as I dislike the telco’s and how they operate as oligopolies I also find fault with the public/society at large. Folks such as yourself have accumulated wealth, not specifically you but a whole lot of folks who are in the0.1 to 1% of wealth holders have paid a significant role in diluting the role of government.We have abdicated and or eunuched the functions of government be it FCC, PSC, AG’s office etc…Until the masses who have been drinking the koolaid and have been more or less comatose like Rip Van Winkle ( and challenge the role of government we will be held ransom by oligopolies in many sectors of society.In the meantime if you can convince residents in your neighborhood to combine together and get Fiber for everyone, you could get Zayo and share a 1Gb pipe. Use them and Ubiquiti networks products for router and wireless and you will beat these oligopolies…Also you could champion municipal ISP service, everyone who lives in NYC could pay $10 a month and get a service that is better than anything the oligopolies offer currently.Oh but there are many libertarians and conservatives who read this blog who would die before they allow socialized internet Oh blimey….

    1. fredwilson

      i am investing in a lot of things to try to change the way things are done. some i am public about, some have not been announced

      1. LE

        I really despise the attempt at the guilt trip that Baba12 is trying to put on you. Not to mention the “assignments” such as “Also you could champion municipal ISP service”. You remember the one about “the horse you rode in on” and what should become of said horse.

  32. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    If I did not believe that the technological world can be greater than the sum of the parts:I would look at US administrators and say “Yay – way to go dumbasses !”Happily we as the world stand on each others shouldersSadly the slopey shoulders of a last mile monopoly are pretty darn vertical.

  33. Eric Woods

    Interestingly, the availability of FIOS seems to be random at best. In my neighborhood, the new construction condo/rental buildings all have FIOS, but none of the brownstones within the blocks have the option. Obviously, Verizon has invested in running significant fiber throughout the area, but refuses to invest in the ‘last mile’ within the blocks.As much as I loathe TWC, even if I had the option it would be a ‘devil I know’ situation & I probably wouldn’t switch. Also, I’m unclear about the relevance of cord cutting in NYC – if I still need the cable company for Broadband, why not keep my HBO?

    1. David Bressler

      Eric, I was fortunate enough to have FIOS and now am “stuck with” TWC. I have outages at least 4-5 times per week for my basic internet services. Never had an outage with FIOS in over 2 years.

      1. jseliger

        Can you get RCN instead? They’ve been great for us.

        1. David Bressler

          As far as I know it’s TWC, or Verizon DSL only. I’ve begged Verizon for FIOS without luck.

          1. David Bressler

            Hilarious. They must have seen my complaints here because now my cable TV is totally not working. (Just kidding, I’m sure it’s not related. I could joke that I complained – I said, my internet never works well, can’t I get the same quality of service on Internet as I do with my cable TV… and here I am, neither work.)

      2. Anne Libby

        When I remember my last straw experience with TWC (2006?), I can still just about feel that gut-deep burning self-righteous consumer entitlement feeling. So sorry for your outages.(15+ years of yoga and meditating: hooked by my dysfunctional relationship with the cable co. #sigh.)

  34. Ana Milicevic

    I have to wonder if this eventually gets solved by an OTT type solution — e.g. a broadband-speed provider that delivers wirelessly so the need for pricey new physical infrastructure becomes a non-issue. No one ever voluntarily walks away from a monopoly.

    1. andyswan

      bingo. Monopolies are temporary government forces.

      1. SubstrateUndertow

        Water, roads and sewers somehow seem to to have carved out a somewhat sustainable monopoly tour-de-force but then again they are essential social infrastructures that are impractical to duplicate.On the other hand the internet last mile is not a pivotal national infrastructure and anyway unlike water, roads and sewers it features cheap easy duplication !

  35. Druce

    FiOS? I can’t even get DSL. In downtown Brooklyn.Verizon’s fixed-line business is basically in runoff as as part of a strategic transition to wireless.In 2012, Verizon bought the cable companies’ wireless spectrum, the cable companies agreed they would resell Verizon Wireless as part of their triple-play, and Verizon said they wouldn’t expand FiOS beyond its current service area. Of course there is an agreement to limit competition.Can hardly blame them, it’s a declining business, unions, regulators.

    1. LE

      I can’t even get DSL. In downtown Brooklyn.Pretty much since the start of the Internet I’ve made checking out the connectivity in a given area a part of the buying decision. If something didn’t have decent broadband it was off the table.I’ve told the story of when I went on a cruise ship back in 2002 and went to the effort (for a 7 day cruise) of speaking to the people who actually operated and installed the satellite (MTN Comm) for the cruise ship, the technical people (not the CSR’s) to make sure they didn’t block any ports and the reliability etc.

      1. Techman

        Curious question: Why would ports matter? Do you use something like IRC (like I do)?

        1. LE

          For example ssh port or a custom port that might be used rather than port 80 for a web page (but not 8080 or anything obvious).

          1. Techman

            I know that Verizon Wireless blocks IRC ports depending on the network you are using. That, or it has something to do with their routing. I hate when ISPs block ports. It either gets the user irritated, or forces them to find a workaround (or sometimes both).

  36. Rob Underwood

    This is a great, important post, Fred.This topic means a lot to me both professionally and personally, and not just because the first time I had a chance to interact with you, Fred, was when I was preparing to moderate a forum at Digital Hollywood and you graciously helped me with some ideas to ask about re SOPA and net neutrality.First, I have Verizon DSL and still have the same modem I had when we moved to North Slope, Brooklyn in 2002. In other words, after 12 years of service, Verizon has made no attempt to upgrade its service in my unit. The rationale, at least the last few years? “FIOS is coming”. (And yes, I could have switched to TwC, but that’s like going from the pan to the fire). They have, though, raised my monthly fee a few times to use the old modem.Our house, which is in North Park Slope, still doesn’t have FIOS. The irony? The wiring for FIOS on our block was done several years ago. About 6 months ago a giant obelisk looking thing appeared next to our house on Prospect Place which we were told by a sub-contractor installer (the only people who appear capable of providing actual information about timelines) indicated we were ready for FIOS.Two weeks ago (and six months later) we heard that the south side of Prospect Place can get FIOS. How can we request service? Not by calling Verizon (who will say FIOS is still not available and will have no ETA), but instead by calling the personal cell phone of the installer (again, a sub-contractor — probably actually a sub of a sub) and asking for it (had a neighbor not bumped into the installer, we’d never have known). The cell phone has made its way around our block and several houses on the south side of Prospect Place now, I understand, have FIOS. The north side, the side with the obelisk? Verizon has determined, according to the installer with the cell phone, that we (the north side of Prospect Place) don’t represent enough demand yet (there are the same number of houses on each side, btw). Our only apparent strategy is to plea to the sub-sub-contractor in hope we can influence the decision – since the obelisk is on the north side, he may be able to install the FIOS now before he has Verizon’s permission (I’m sure they’d bill us though).So after 12 years of the same DSL services, our street being torn up, backyards made available for installations, and now a giant obelisk, we still don’t know if and when we’ll get FIOS.Part of this is because big corporations, especially in telecom, bloat and grow lethargic under their own size in our current monopolistic, oligarchic economy. When revenues are guaranteed, why try?When I left consulting, I described my previous work – which officially was “strategy consulting for tech, telecom, and media companies” – as having actually been to “defend the broken business models of entrenched incumbents.” But really it could be described as getting paid well to charge clients $600/hour to fix the kerning on the fonts on PowerPoint slides. Making pretty slides (not doing underlying analysis — the numbers are just content/props, no different than well kerned fonts; usually numbers are just invented to support whatever the client wants to hear) is how most people spend their time at any of the BBBM or Big–4 strategy groups. (And the reason big telecoms have the money to pay hundreds of dollars an hour to have MBAs from Harvard and Stanford build pretty slides and fix font kerning is because they are monopolies).This too is why when I hear that, say, 10,000 people will be laid off from a big telecom I generally can assume the companies lousy level of service will stay the same (as John chimed in on a classic Paul tune, “It couldn’t get much worse!”). Unless the 10,000 people losing their jobs are people who actually DO something (like install FIOS in homes), they probably either write contracts to hire consultants to make pretty PowerPoint slides or, instead, make pretty PowerPoint slides themselves. Since they do nothing, and their slides say nothing, the loss of their employment has no real impact on the operations of the company. I’d guess that 70-80% of Verizon employees could be let go tomorrow and so long as the more competent installers and customer service reps were kept around, the only difference in the work world would be a big loss in PowerPoint license revenue to Microsoft and consulting revenue to the large strategy firms.We need – each of us, all of us – to demand better and that’s why a post like Fred’s, provocative and direct though it may be (“They are the worst”), is important. Employees, especially smart young people, need to vote with their feet by going into more meaningful forms of work where things are actually created. Maybe that’s being a teacher. Maybe it’s doing a start–up and pitching to Fred. But people want to DO something, so go DO something. And if you’re “stuck” at a big telecom or consultancy, be courageous and ask yourself, your friends, and your colleagues if you’ve together accomplished anything today (again, PowerPoints don’t count). If you haven’t, try and speak up and change things from the inside. Ask why a lot — that’s a place to start. And if that fails, for the love of God, leave. Life is way to short to be spending mindless hours fixing kerning of fonts for a telecom monopoly.

    1. baba12

      lol…You benefitted from being paid for doing “strategery(sp) work” for telcom etc…As for “And if you’re “stuck” at a big telecom or consultancy, be courageous and ask yourself, your friends, and your colleagues if you’ve together accomplished anything today (again, PowerPoints don’t count). If you haven’t, try and speak up and change things from the inside.”I think you will agree that for most folks who are in that field or any other field of work like say banking/law/ etc to speak-up would change the status quo. Most folks don’t challenge anything cuz they have vested interests – they have a mortgage to pay, they got student loans, they have a car payment to make, save for their kids college etc… it would be suicide for them, they swallow their conscience and accept it and try to do something on the side like volunteer or give their customary donations for charities so as to feel good…So as much as you want change to happen it is unlikely to happen unless and until incumbents in every sector get hit by something they don’t see coming at all. Even then a lot of times they will squash such things…I hope that sometime soon more “white collar” jobs get automated/outsourced.It may awaken the middle class. Why? The rich like the status quo, the poor are depleted of energy to fight, they are just trying to survive, therefore only when the middle class that has so far been sleeping awakens and creates a mass movement that motivates the tired poor folks as well and possibly challenge the oligopolies… that we have today… And no signing a petition online/facebook and twittering about things does not bring about change. Have to have a critical mass of folks who are willing to conduct a non-violent civil disobedience movement that is willing to put their pens/keyboards/mouse (white collar) and march out enmasse…Until such an movement forms you can read blog posts, comment on it and let out steam but thats about it…….Oh blimey what am I saying… I better shut up ….

      1. Rob Underwood

        This is why I see both Occupy (“critical mass of folks who are willing to conduct a non-violent civil disobedience movement”) and the start-up/VC industry (“incumbents in every sector get hit by something they don’t see coming at all”) as both being important change (for the better) agents. I tried to make that connection here

        1. baba12

          Occupy movement lacked critical mass and it was not willing to really challenge. It was more of a “trustafarians” party.I am just making an observation.

          1. Rob Underwood

            Assessing the impact of Occupy now is like trying to assess the impact of the late 60s from 1972. It’s just too soon and we’re too much still in the moment.I think what can be said is they shifted the national dialogue from the debt (that had been a big topic that summer, the debt) to economic inequality. That impacted the election results in 2012, at least in my opinion (for example, the whole 47% gaffe would have meant much less w/o Occupy). And from there, I think they deserve credit for putting the topic of economic justice squarely on the table where it has more or less remained. Piketty w/o Occupy doesn’t become a best-seller. And the terms coined from the movement, most notably 1%/99% have remained and become central vernacular to our national political dialogue. Finally, I think demonstrating that activism sometimes means taking to the streets, risking arrest and hard, was an important reminder in these days of clicktivism.

  37. jason wright

    do you think this sort of thing impacts residential property values in NYC?

    1. baba12

      Nope. real estate value in NYC isnt based on such things…

  38. Semil Shah

    Do you believe Facebook and Google (or even Aereo) will have enough power to offer different solutions?

  39. Max

    Amen, I’ve been waiting years in Park Slope!!

    1. Rob Underwood

      Me too. See my (much much longer) post below. I’m happy to share the mobile phone of the sub-contractor installer who literally appears to be controlling when and if homes in the Slope, at least North Slope, get FIOS.

  40. John Revay

    Verizon – lying or incompetence?Probably both

  41. LE

    Here is the announcement of the original agreement:http://newscenter2.verizon….The question of course is what was the stick on the other side of this “agreement”.

    1. Rob Underwood

      There was probably no more stick than there was a stick put to Bruce Ratner to build affordable housing at Atlantic Yards. That’s the problem — the government, now an oligarchy, cuts deals with corporations that are all carrot. The corporation states it will accomplish a good goal (e.g., FIOS in all five boros; more affordable housing in Brooklyn) under a set time frame and the promises are the cover used to get the public behind the agreements. But no one is ever held accountable when things don’t materialize.

      1. LE

        and the promises are the cover used to get the public behind the agreements.So the “pox” is on the public that isn’t annoying and critical enough. Luckily that’s not my deficiency. If something is important to me I am typically all over it and attempting, to the best of my ability, to hold feet to the flame. (Remember Reagan who said “trust but verify”).I think I developed this as a kid. My dad used to make promises and then wouldn’t always back them up later. I remember one time he schlepped me on a trip to NY State and said he would buy me a toy. But he didn’t. So I was more careful going forward. With my own kids I am 99.99% good with my word (need a little wiggle room, right?). Given what I just said though I wonder if I am actually disadvantaging them by doing this?

        1. Rob Underwood

          In the case of Atlantic Yards, I think there were lots of citizens (I was one) who tried to advocate for both the neighborhood and the public (you’ll recall the MTA sold the yards to the *low* bidder). The movie “Battle of Brooklyn” frames the effort to hold the city and the developer accountable. Atlantic Yards Report still covers the on-going issues. Many people, at least those paying attention, knew it was bait and switch, that people’s homes would be seized under threat of eminent domain, that the arena would come, and the affordable housing which other housing was torn down to create would never be built (the jobs didn’t really much happen either — so “Jobs, Housing, Hoops” really just became “Hoops” and the MTV Video Awards. Start-ups and resurgent light manufacturing has produced MANY MANY more jobs over the same time period). The officials who entered into the deals didn’t listen. One can only speculate on motivation.Back to Verizon, the question is what “bad thing” happens to Verizon missing the dates. Surely the agreement was a complex thing with many covenants (including ones that surely covered situations like a Sandy happening). I’d like to join you in holding their feet to fire, but I expect there is no flame.

          1. Rob Underwood

            Here, btw, are some photos of more of the “urban blight” that is going to be cleared for phase 2 of Atlantic Yards. http://atlanticyardsreport….

  42. LE

    I hope the folks to run the FCC, the Federal Government, and local governments realize that Verizon are not to be trustedI don’t think this is about trust at all.It’s about what the quid pro quo was and the actual contract (was there one that spelled out terms and conditions?) that was negotiated when the “agreement” was made.To me this is very clear cut. If there was no contractual obligation then the city messed up here unless there was some other legitimate reason that they reached the agreement without something to force the company to hold up their end of the bargain.

  43. LE

    Fios was “right around the corner” in my new office that I got in 2010. Fios is all over the area. Across the street. Right at the street for that matter (they just have to trench it into the complex). Nothing like a NYC dig.I have FIOS at my house (and Comcast) and it’s about 2 miles away from the office. Fios is currently battling Netflix (I’m getting those “congested” messages.They also had the same agreement in NJ to roll out Fios which they reneged on [1]. When I moved in I was told though that it might not happen and luckily I get good enough speeds (at the office) out of Comcast so it’s not a big issue. But I would definitely like to get Fios as well. As a backup. In my particular building there are about 60 offices and most are medical and definitely need the TV service as well as phone and Internet. It’s handled now by Verizon DSL and Comcast.[1]

  44. ZekeV

    My wife and I switched back to Comcast when we moved b/c Verizon kept delaying their promised install date. Verizon also appears to be throttling some services like Netflix, or so I’ve heard, and the actual data speeds on Comcast are competitive despite the difference in advertised bandwidth.

  45. TKList

    The solution. Petition your local government (not the federal government) to allow competition in the last mile.

  46. jseliger

    I’ve been asking Verizon to bring FIOS to the condo apartment building the Gotham Gal and I built since 2007.On the other hand, Verizon has apparently been trying to install FiOS in our building for years, and the building management hasn’t wanted to let them.That hasn’t mattered much to us because RCN is pretty good; they now offer 110 Mbs down and 20 Mbs up for $50/month. That’s a better deal for us than FiOS. We’re moving this month and staying with RCN. The comparable $50 FiOS plan is $50 / month for 65 or 75 Mbs down and maybe 35 up.The substantially better plan is $89 or $99 a month, but AFAICT the real bottleneck is upstream of us, since virtually nothing we do appears to approach even 10% of the max upload or download speeds.

    1. LE

      How many units are in your building?

      1. jseliger

        At least a hundred. There are at least six on each floor, with about 24 floors total.

        1. LE

          So there are 100 potential customers vs. 1 in Fred’s building. Or, say, 5 on Fred’s street. Makes sense they would be pushing to bring it into your building.

  47. aguest

    given that the current Chairman of the FCC is a former Telecomm lobbyist, I’m not sure he’ll agree with you.

  48. Siminoff

    There is a crowdsource business here for neighbors to join together and bring in their own direct connection to split. Wish I had the time to do it would be a fun one.

  49. Menachem Began

    My local telco, Bell Aliant, is actually rolling out their FibreOP FTTH service. Urban, suburban, even rural in pockets. In spite of us living in an area that can be described as suburban sprawl on steroids, multiacre lots, we’re now connected at 175 Mbps.Two things made this feasible. The new fiber optic technology that serves up to 16 houses with one long fibre. And Aliant must have written up quite the business case (them, a telco, now offering ‘Cable’ TV) to arrange massive financing. They’re very clever and their future success is well deserved.

  50. Darrell Glasco

    Amen. There is no incentive to be responsive to customers.

  51. mature

    Hi fred my name is Naomi Gaddy and i was just reading up on your blog about Verizon I notice your grammar of line fourteen is suppose to be who run the FCC and not to run but, very interesting.

  52. Prokofy

    So, I see this is about your own apartment building now.But bandwidth is a scarce commodity, and adding more competitors to it doesn’t necessarily speed up delivery of the construction and service. The logic doesn’t follow.Parking space is a scarce commodity in New York City, and adding these ridiculous Citibike stations didn’t add to the stock of parking space it only pleased some people who are rental bike enthusiasts and fans of coding systems applied to reality.

  53. D_Merkel

    Create a business that will build the last mile for them at a cheaper cost.