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New York Ops Slam Verizon On Construction

New York state regulators have been asked to cite Verizon Communications Inc. for illegally building cable systems without the necessary franchise agreements.

The town of Babylon, N.Y., with 211,000 residents, has joined the Cable Television Association of New York and Cablevision Systems Corp. in petitioning the state Public Service Commission against Verizon’s construction of a fiber-to-the-home network that could eventually deliver video.

For its part, the regional telephone powerhouse has stressed that its only current broadband service is high-speed Internet access, for which no franchise is needed, spokesman Cliff Lee said.

The petition asks the PSC to bar Verizon from further construction unless it negotiates franchise agreements with local communities.

The city of New Rochelle and town of Eastchester will offer separate petitions, the CTANY said.

Other localities opposed to Verizon’s construction practices include Larchmont, Mineola, Eastchester, Greenburgh, Williston Park, Lake Success, Yonkers and Huntington, opponents say.

Opponents said Verizon’s network upgrade includes the installation of large metal lockers on telephone poles near ground level. These create a hazard for pedestrians and motorists, they said.

Verizon’s facilities on poles also violate electrical and safety standards, according to the petition.

Lee said Verizon has been working with all its host cities to ensure it complies with local construction rules. “It sounds like another attempt to thwart competition,” he said. If Verizon brings competition to the marketplace, cable companies “won’t be able to raise rates whenever they want.”

Verizon’s work, so far, has taken place in municipal rights-of-way and represents an effort to modernize the telco’s existing plant, Lee said.