Verizon has refused to bring FiOS into Co-op City, and the north Bronx resudebts are restless. A recent poll conducted by the Communication Workers of America claims that 72 percent of Co-op City residents want the choice of Verizon FiOS so they can access high speed Internet, yet their calls are going ignored.
On Friday, January 22, residents rallied at the corner of Baychester Avenue and Aldrich Street along with Senator Ruth-Hassell-Thompson, Assemblymen Michael Benedetto, Councilman Andy King, and CWA union members to demand that Verizon start listening and install FiOS in the community of over 50.000 residents.
While Co-op City is certainly not the only location being ignored by Verizon it’s a perfect example of a residential area that could benefit from the service but is being overlooked by the company, the union claims.
“By denying Co-op City FiOs, Verizon is effectively red-lining residents of 21st century infastructure and everything that comes along with that,” said Pete Sikora, Communications Workers of America.
“It’s incredibly important for economic development, if you don’t have access to high speed Internet your out of luck with job searches, homework, basic entertainment and communication,” he said.
At this point residents can access Internet service through Cablevision, but the lack of FiO’s high speed Internet leaves people at the mercy of a cable monopoly, the CWA contends.
Other Internet options can only push through a certain amount of bandwidth but FiOs can push an unlimited amount making it much faster, it is alleged.
Daryl Johnson, who is on the Co-op City Board of Directors says he regularly receives calls from residents requesting FiOS servie.
“It’s been going on for a number of years,” said Thompson, “And if [Co-op City] residents want it I think they should be able to get it legally.”
FiOS advertises its network is unique in that it works with a fiber optic cable versus wire, and that’s what makes it fast – but it also makes the service expensive to install and build.
However, this point becomes mute after reading Verizon’s lastest report showing the company’s staggeringly profitable last quarter with $5.5 billion in profit.
Ray Morales, a Co-op City resident, says he wants FiOs because he wants competition for his dollar. “I have no choice,” said Morale, “They can charge you and treat you however they want when they know you have no choice.”
Cablevision has a service agreement with Co-op City, but its board said it does not exclude other providers from offering competing services to its residents.
New York State offers a $500 million New York Broadband fund, offering subsidies to companies who will build high speed Internet service in areas that are rural or underserved.
Verizon has an agreement with NYC – they can use city streets for FiOS, but in return the company must make the service available to every NYC resident – obviously including those in Co-op City.
A citywide audit released by the De Blasio administration in June 2015 found that Verizon failed to meet their obligations to deliver fiber optic technology to all New Yorkers.