Fair Internet Coalition
PO Box 127
Middle Island, New York 11953
Contact: Jacob Kraniak,
December 26th, 2022
For Immediate Release
LOCAL INTERNET PROVIDER FILES PETITION, CLAIMING VERIZON ENGAGED IN ILLEGAL ANTI-COMPETITIVE PRACTICES
A local NYC/NJ internet company, alleges that internet provider giant, Verizon, has schemed for years to put them and other competitors out of business using unfair and illegal tactics.
New York, NY – On November 30, 2022, Optical Communications Group Inc. (OCG), represented by the law firm of Coyle & Morris LLP, filed a petition with the Public Service Commission (PSC) against Verizon New York Inc. (“Verizon”) for the intentional and/or negligent handling of OCG’s rightful and legal contract to lease Verizon’s utility poles and underground conduits (buried fiber optic cables, accessed through “manholes”) to provide service to OCG’s customers.
Verizon owns various systems of underground conduits and above-ground utility
poles under and/or over the roadways, public lands, and other public right of ways in several of the boroughs of New York City and on Long Island, New York. By virtue of the public nature of those conduits and utility poles, and to facilitate competition in New York, Verizon is required to lease space on its conduits and on its utility poles for other companies wishing to run cables under and over the public spaces. The petition states that “Verizon has misused its dominance and monopolistic power to stifle competition through, among other things, improper billing practices and limitations on access to its system of conduits and poles.”
Specifically, OCG reports that Verizon has on numerous occasions illegally occupied OCG’s paid-for space on the utility poles and underground facilities and used OCG’s cables without permission. OCG further reports that for years Verizon has been overcharging and mishandling bills that were paid, resulting in an overcharge of over $260,000. Despite OCG’s efforts to work with Verizon to correct these charges and address other issues, Verizon has declared that they will terminate OCG as a licensee of Verizon’s conduits.
“OCG has seen a tremendous amount of demand for internet service, through over a thousand requests for service from residents on Long Island, the largest portion of which are centered around Rocky Point and the surrounding Brookhaven Township. To that effect, our company has been working hard to bring affordable and reliable broadband access to residents and businesses of Long Island and the rest of New York…” said Brad Ickes, President of OCG, “…Especially those underserved communities with a lack of options for internet service. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a clear example of why consumers need reliable internet at their home in order to: work remotely, attend school online, or communicate with family and friends.”
Frank Kanter, Administrative Director of a local Consumer Advocacy nonprofit, Fair Internet Coalition (“FIC”), said “Here we have another classic David vs. Goliath story. At FIC, we support any endeavor that promotes timely and rigorous broadband competition that is controlled by the free market and economic conditions. This nonsense between OCG and Verizon is a clear product of ineffective or weak laws, rules and regulations. Ratepayers subject to Big Telecom are the ones who suffer. FIC stands behind OCG, and will continue to support and promote this local business that is working hard to bring broadband competition that the market has been demanding for so many years. ”
For more than 20 years, OCG has provided fiber optic cable networks and high-speed internet services to government agencies, educational institutions, fire departments, police departments, and data centers, among others. OCG has a network that stretches from the end of Long Island through the outer boroughs and into New Jersey. Terminating such licenses would devastate OCG’s business, hurt the customers that rely on their service, and decrease competition for incumbents Verizon and Optimum, leading to increased rates for consumers.
Consumers are urged to submit public comments on this matter by using the link shared below and clicking on “Public Comments.”
Read the formal petition: https://documents.dps.ny.gov/public/MatterManagement/CaseMaster.aspx?MatterSeq=69502&MNO=22-C-0667