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Verizon FIOS Comes To Boston: The Missing Manual

Saul Tannenbaum
Apr 28, 2016 · 5 min read

It’s hard out there for Verizon. You’re part of the cable TV and internet service industry, the two most hated sectors of the economy. One Democratic presidential candidate denounces you for corporate greed and pickets with striking workers. The other, the one to whom you paid a $225,000 speaking fee, sides with your workers while her husband joins a picket line. But $18 billion in annual profits certainly makes it feel better.

It’s impossible to over-estimate how surprised industry observers were by Verizon’s announcement that they’re bringing FIOS — their internet and cable TV service — to Boston. No less than President Obama had announced that one should not expect any new competition in the cable TV and internet service provider industry. Academics had written entire books about this failure in the marketplace. The FCC chair, a man who describes himself as a cheerleader for capitalism, has been promoting the essentially socialist solution of municipally-owned fiber optic networks. The Boston Globe, entirely out of character, had written an editorial saying that Boston should build a municipal network.

The Globe was so surprised it ran a 5-part explainer, which almost, but not quite, tells the story of revolving door advisors, crony capitalism and predatory business practices. Here’s what they missed in those 5 parts:

The Globe only alludes to what has to be a core reason for Verizon’s shift:

Verizon was going to be putting in a lot fiber optic cable anyway and needs many more micro-cell sites. Verizon is preparing for 5G, the next generation of wireless technology. 5G requires many, many more antennas and cell sites than 4G, antennas that need to be connected by fiber optic cables. If you’re going to be digging up the city for cabling, somebody’s going to notice and start asking about FIOS. Why not flip the script and try to turn it into a positive? You’re going to make perhaps $100 billion in profit over the six years of this project. A $300 million investment in better headlines barely touches that number.


The author is a member of the Cambridge Broadband Task Force. The views expressed are his own.

Photo credit: Nick Hoh, CWA.

BINJ Reports

The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism produces bold…

Saul Tannenbaum

Written by

Citizen Journalist, Activist, Instigator, Publisher: http://Cambridgehappenings.org, a #CambMA news aggregator. Find my writings at http://saultannenbaum.org

BINJ Reports

The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism produces bold reporting on issues related to social justice, and cultivates writers and multimedia producers to assist in that role. BINJ supports independent publications in various capacities.

Saul Tannenbaum

Written by

Citizen Journalist, Activist, Instigator, Publisher: http://Cambridgehappenings.org, a #CambMA news aggregator. Find my writings at http://saultannenbaum.org

BINJ Reports

The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism produces bold reporting on issues related to social justice, and cultivates writers and multimedia producers to assist in that role. BINJ supports independent publications in various capacities.

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