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October 31, 2016

Philly officials weigh in on availability of Verizon FIOS in city

Philadelphia officials said Monday that Verizon has made efforts to offer its cable service to approximately 97 percent of city residents.

Mayor Jim Kenney's Office announced its determination if the telecommunications company made good on its promise to provide FIOS to all city residents. The city received input from citizens via an online survey, conducted random testing and examined documents provided by Verizon to make its decision.

In 2009, the city agreed to a cable franchise agreement allowing Verizon to expand its network to all residents by Feb. 2016. The company claimed it had met its goal, but claimed exceptions for more than 125,000 households. To verify the deployment, the city asked residents in May to share their experience with the service.

The city deemed 102,908 exceptions to be valid but rejected 22,422 claims that represent nearly three percent of households. The city determined that some permits were submitted too close to the deadline for the company to have completed the work.

A majority of the claims were approved because the city found that landlords of apartment complexes and condominiums denied Verizon's attempts to offer access. Anyone who lives in those buildings is urged to contact their landlord to request service.

The sections of the city with the most residents who still lack access to FIOS include Center City, Old City, Chinatown, Somerton, Kingsessing, Grays Ferry, Queen Village and parts of Northeast Philly along Academy Road between Grant Avenue and Roosevelt Boulevard.

Verizon maintains that all of its requests for exceptions were valid. However, the company agreed to donate $350,000 to the city to rectify the issue. City officials said the money will fund efforts to expand digital inclusion efforts for underserved children.

The city and Verizon have agreed to amend the agreement to ensure all residents have access to the service in a timely manner. The company also acknowledged additional penalties if it does not meet the new deadline.