Aurich Lawson

Verizon doesn’t want to deploy high-speed wired broadband service to all New Jersey residents, despite receiving financial perks from the state for the past 20 years in exchange for building a statewide network.
To make sure it doesn’t have to complete the buildout to all of New Jersey’s 8.9 million residents, Verizon led an astroturf campaign that flooded the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU) with hundreds of identical e-mails purporting to support Verizon’s case. One person who is listed as having written one of these e-mails told Ars that he didn’t submit anything, and if he did, “I would’ve slammed them.” A report in Stop the Cap this month found several other Verizon “supporters” who had no idea e-mails were submitted under their names.Before describing the astroturf campaign, here is a little background. Verizon is on the verge of getting state approval of a settlement eliminating an obligation to provide broadband service to the whole state by 2010. Instead of just getting service automatically, people who want broadband from Verizon would have to complete a “bonafide retail request” process and prove that they and at least 34 neighbors can’t get service from anyone else. Even then, Verizon would have nine months to comply and could meet its newly lessened obligation by making 4G cellular service available through its subsidiary, Verizon Wireless.
Verizon predecessor New Jersey Bell agreed to the statewide broadband buildout in a 1993 agreement with the state. In exchange for a different form of price regulation that would allow the company to make more money, “Verizon agreed to upgrade its network to provide broadband to every Verizon New Jersey business and residential customer, school, and library for 100 percent of its service territory,” according to the state’s Division of Rate Counsel.
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