Verizon has announced that the company invested more than $627 million in its New Jersey wireline networks and information technology infrastructure in 2012 to enable Verizon networks to continue to meet the state's growing broadband, communications and information needs.
“The economic health of New Jersey is increasingly tied to robust and modern communications networks, and Verizon’s continued infrastructure investments ensure that New Jersey stays at the front of the line in state-of-the-art communications for both consumers and businesses,” said Paul Sullivan, Verizon region president of consumer and mass business for New Jersey.
“Advanced networks spur innovation, commerce, business development, learning and communication at an accelerated pace," said the executive for Verizon, with a major presence off North Maple Avenue in Basking Ridge.
“As one of the largest private capital investors in the state, Verizon is helping to break down traditional technological boundaries, empowering people and businesses in New Jersey to connect however, whenever and wherever they want. This creates opportunities that are borderless and that bring great benefits to our customers, employees, suppliers and communities across the Garden State,” Sullivan said.
Even so, William Huber, president and business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Unions Local 827 — part of a larger group of union locals that just signed a contract with Verizon last fall after more than a year of intense, sometimes contentious bargaining — pointed out that there are ways that Verizon's investment isn't as large as is needed.
One of the issues of the long negotiations between the unions and Verizon from 2011 into late 2012 was the company's commitment to wireline phone service.
Huber said the landline based phones sometimes held up better than wireless devices during Hurricane Sandy — but he said there still are tens of thousands of wireline phone-based customers throughout New Jersey still waiting for phone service to be restored. He said those customers are in northern New Jersey in places such as Hoboken as well as the shore areas.
Huber said copper line-based systems held up through power outages, but fiber optic lines must be backed by a power source with a larger, more reliable battery.
According to Huber, Verizon's commitment to FiOs, a bundled fiber optic product for communications, is required by the company's franchise agreement with the state.
One of the unions' concerns, Huber said, is that senior citizens who rely on landlines as a lifeline do not lose phone service when power goes out.
In Verizon's news release, the company said that more than half of U.S. consumers say internet service is their home’s most important convenience, according to the Verizon FiOS Innovation Index, a series of consumer research surveys.
More than 50 percent of all survey respondents also indicated an interest in remote health monitoring and virtual medical visits, which are enabled by ultra-high-speed networks and innovative applications.
“Whether it’s sharing photos or videos from your laptop with friends, watching TV on your tablet, or monitoring blood pressure online, our networks are delivering to consumers and businesses an experience that is second-to-none in meeting their communications needs,” said Sullivan.
Verizon said the company's major wireline infrastructure programs in 2012 included:
- Continued deployment of the company’s award-winning, 100 percent fiber-optic FiOS TV and FiOS Internet services. At year’s end, FiOS services were available to more than 1.9 million New Jersey homes and businesses.
- The introduction of breakthrough speeds with FiOS Quantum Internet for consumers and small businesses, featuring download/upload speeds of 50/25, 75/35, 150/65 and 300/65 megabits per second (Mbps). The two highest downstream speed offers — 150 and 300 Mbps and the new 65 Mbps upstream speed are some of the nation’s fastest mass-scale Internet speeds available.
- Continued FiOS innovation.
- FiOS television services anytime in a variety of devices, including Flex View and FiOS TV Online, to which Verizon added 12 new brands, representing more than 50 channels, including Showtime, FOX, VH1, NFL Network and NFL RedZone.
- TV beyond the set-top box, featuring 75 live, linear channels delivered via Xbox, iPad and an array of Samsung and LG smart TVs and Blu-ray players, according to Verizon's announcement.
- Content enhancement by adding 28 new channels, such as BBC HD and Cartoon Network HD; more than 17,000 video-on-demand titles, including free VOD from NBA TV; and a significant expansion to Verizon’s free on-demand offerings from TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network and Showtime. FiOS TV now offers more than 50,000 VOD titles each month.
- More than 200,000 Verizon customers nationwide who had repeat repair calls on their landline phone service moved their service from Verizon’s copper network to the company’s all-fiber infrastructure, which is less susceptible than copper to moisture and water damage and offers a better service experience.
- Continued deployment of fiber-optic links to wireless providers’ cell sites throughout New Jersey as these carriers expand their infrastructure to meet ever-growing demand for wireless broadband and advanced 4G services. In 2012, Verizon deployed fiber optics to connect 310 of these sites in the state.