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NYC Blasts Verizon for Broken Cable Promises

Saying Verizon broke its promise of fiber-optic cable service for 8.5 million New Yorkers by 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio hit the communications giant with a civil complaint Monday.

MANHATTAN (CN) — Hitting Verizon with a civil complaint on Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio slammed the communications giant for “breaking the trust of 8.5 million” customers whom it promised fiber-optic cable service by 2014.

Nearly a decade has passed since Verizon entered into a deal to install its fiber-optic network, known as FiOS, through every residential building in New York City.

Three years after the deadline, de Blasio told Verizon time’s up.

“It’s 2017, and we’re done waiting,” the mayor said in a statement. “No corporation – no matter how large or powerful – can break a promise to New Yorkers and get away with it.”

Verizon spokesman Rich Young said in a statement that the company has proposed investing an additional $1 billion in fiber in NYC over the next four years.

“We also have committed to continuing to expand Fios availability in New York City to another 1 million households – and thousands more small businesses – in addition to the 2.2 million residences that can already get service today,” he wrote. “At a time when communities across the country are seeking and encouraging broadband investments like these, the city is inexplicably turning its back on this investment and its residents by pursuing foolish litigation that will harm jobs, business growth and technology competition throughout all five boroughs.”

Vowing to “vigorously fight” the lawsuit, Young noted that Verizon entered its agreement with de Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg.

“The de Blasio administration is disingenuously attempting to rewrite the terms of an agreement made with his predecessor and is acting in its own political self-interests that are completely at odds with what’s best for New Yorkers,” Young added.

Attorneys for the city filed this morning’s lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court, detailing the terms of the 2008 agreement, and contrasting the statements of Verizon representatives with the company’s actions.

The complaint quotes one unnamed Verizon representative as vowing to install "fiber up and down each street and avenue in the entire city."

“Verizon has defaulted on its obligations both to build out its network and to undertake the process for providing service where requested by potential subscribers,” the complaint states. “That is, first, Verizon defaulted on its obligation to ‘pass’ every residential building in the City by the prescribed deadline. And second, Verizon has failed in many instances - believed to number at least in the tens of thousands — to timely complete installations as requested by potential subscribers, leaving such New Yorkers without the desired television service. Indeed, Verizon has failed even to accept many New Yorkers' requests for FiOS service, although the agreement requires it to do so.”

The two-count lawsuit, signed by assistant city lawyer June Buch, asks the court to find that Verizon breached its contract and its guarantee.

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