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Verizon: NY Grounding Grind Cost $30M

After spending two years and more than $30 million to make sure its FiOS installations in New York were properly grounded per the National Electrical Code, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) has informed the New York Public Service Commission that it will wind down its Network Review Plan.

In a letter to NYPSC secretary Jaclyn A. Brilling, Verizon's lawyer Keefe B. Clemons writes that even though "some locations are not fully compliant with applicable grounding requirements" the carrier is addressing some really bad spots, and says the others just aren't dangerous.

Clemons writes that "many of the non-compliance findings, even if arguably justifiable... relate to minor deviations that should not be a cause for concern either to Verizon’s customers or to the Commission."

Why this matters
Though it looks like a cable conspiracy, the NYPSC takes credit for finding the ground faults in Verizon's FiOS installations. Its public affairs director, in an email to Light Reading, notes that in 2006 the NYPSC staff "found a high degree of noncompliance with the applicable NEC standards for grounding and bonding. In response, the Commission commenced a proceeding as direct result of staff's due diligence and interest in safeguarding the public."

Outside the NYPSC, Verizon's grounding issues are watched with interest by cable competitors, who are keen to see FiOS rollouts cost Verizon more money and, perhaps, slow down its march into their territories with fiber optic-fed broadband services. Clemons's letter marks the first time Verizon has publicly put a figure on how much the whole code compliance setback has cost in hard dollars.

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— Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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