Verizon Says Manhattan Landlords Want Cash for Cable

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Verizon is still mired in work trying to replace its massive copper-wire grid that was all but destroyed when Hurricane Sandy flooded lower Manhattan, but it's not replacing that old copper wiring with new copper wiring. It's replacing it with fiber optic lines, and that gives it a chance to try to sell more services to tenants whose buildings are getting upgraded by default. Unfortunately for the phone and cable company, not all landlords want it to replace their wiring with fiber optics, and Verizon says in a complaint to the city that some have either blocked it from accessing their buildings or, more insidiously, demanded thousands of dollars for access.

"A Verizon spokesman, John Bonomo, declined to say how much the landlords asked for, but cable-industry executives said building owners have sought as much as $150 per apartment in what are known as door fees. For a building like 11 Maiden Lane, that could translate to more than $10,000," The New York Times reports. An executive for the company that owns the building "said tenants at 11 Maiden Lane never lost phone service because of the storm and did not need the additional services that Verizon wanted to provide."

As the site DSL Reports notes, the conflict comes down to Verizon's desire to replace its old grid versus landlords' desire not to have their buildings worked on and tenants' desires to just get things back to normal. "The telco could get those users up and running again if they were willing to simply repair the copper, but they're choosing not to do that." One technician told the blog, "I have spoken with many customers that are currently refusing FIOS — most of them prefer the reliability of POTS."