Council moves forward on Verizon franchise agreement hearing

Last week City Councilman Jim Kenney called for hearings on the status of a 2009 franchise agreement between Verizon Communications Inc. and the city to bring the FiOS –fiber optic network to Philadelphia.

And today, during Council’s weekly session, Doug Smith, the external director of affairs, for Verizon Pennsylvania tried in vain to get Council to table the resolution. Kenney introduced the resolution after hearing that Verizon may not be building-out in low income areas. (Check out an earlier PhillyClout post.)

“Let me be clear a hearing on the FiOS project is not needed and I ask the sponsor to table this resolution,” Smith said. “The sponsor claims to have information suggesting Verizon is out of compliance with the contract. Let me be clear again, we are in compliance.”

Smith said he provided Council with a summary of facts from proprietary reports that have been filed with the city.

“The data shows that Verizon is on schedule to meet and exceed the bill requirements outlined in the contracts,” Smith said. “The sponsor claims that he heard from unnamed sources that we aren’t building in those low income neighborhoods, we don’t do business like that and it’s a contractual obligation that we take very seriously.”

Just as Smith’s three-minute speaking time came to an end on the Council floor he said, “Table it. Table it.”

But, that didn’t happen. Council approved the resolution.

“I want to assure the body and the speaker that I have no fears of this regard and to quote Shakespeare ‘he who protests too much…’ when a large national corporation tells a body that there’s no need for hearings that’s generally a pretty good reason why we should have them,” Kenney said. “They have proprietary concerns and I understand that, but we awarded this franchise I believe in 2009 in a public way in a public forum this is the public’s business.”

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