Verizon Will Take Legal Action Against N.J. Condo Owners Who Don't Want FiOS

Verizon will take legal action against New Jersey condo associations who do not want FiOS installed in their buildings. FiOS is Verizon’s super-fast fibre optic network.

I learned this because I live in Jersey City, and I’m the treasurer of the board for my condo association. Recently, we received a package of paperwork from Verizon that looks like a lawsuit.

The first page is marked, “CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION FILED UNDER SEAL.” The rest of it is a lawsuit-like demand for access to our buildings in Jersey City: “Verizon NJ has been unable to obtain access to upgrade the infrastructure using its standard technical solution under reasonable terms and conditions at [my address],” it reads. “While Verizon’s preference is to upgrade its network for FiOS TV service in multiple dwelling unit properties where property owners/managers welcome the availability of FiOS TV service, a resident of the premises initiated a request with Verizon NJ for FiOS services. As such, Verizon NJ is required to file this Petition for access to the Premises.”

In fact, it turns out to be a petition to the state Board of Public Utilities, not a lawsuit.

The legalistic undertone of the letter is clear, “you have prevented us from installing FiOS in your building. And now our lawyers are going to harass you.”

Verizon may have the law on its side.

“It’s not a legal action, it’s required by law, when a resident requests FiOS service” a Verizon spokesperson told me. He was not able to tell me how the petition might be opposed. “That’s up to the BPU.”

Verizon declined to tell me which resident or owner in the building has requested FiOS. “I don’t know if we can legally provide that information,” the spokesperson told me. Bizarrely, the name of the resident is redacted in the petition because it “CONTAINS CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION TO VERIZON NJ.,” the petition states.

Verizon’s beef seems to be that, unlike cable, it cannot just install FiOS in a single apartment. It needs to wire our whole building. And for that it needs building-wide access to lay wire inside “basements, garages and crawl spaces,” according to the legal papers.

To the knowledge of myself and the president of our condo association, no one we know has requested FiOS. It was discussed once by our association, several years ago, with an owner who since sold his unit and moved out.

Our building gets its broadband needs almost entirely from Comcast, DirecTV and Verizon, but we don’t have FiOS specifically.

The situation seems to be that even if a majority of the owners in the building oppose FiOS, Verizon still has a state-approved right to enter our homes and install FiOS against our will as long as one “resident” has requested it.

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