Fios envy in the Big Apple

New York's largest apartment complex is getting Fios, but for millions of New Yorkers, like me, super-high speed Internet will remain only a dream.

For some lucky New Yorkers living in two of Manhattan's largest mega-apartment complexes, Fios super high-speed Internet access is here. As for the rest of us living in New York City, we'll have to suck it up and deal with sub-10-megabit-per-second speeds.

Verizon said Monday it has struck a deal with Tishman Speyer Properties to deploy the Fios fiber-to-the-home service to Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, the two biggest apartment complexes in Manhattan with 110 buildings and more than 11,000 apartments covering 18 city blocks along the East River of Manhattan.

But for most of the 8 million people living in New York City, such as myself, Verizon's fiber network, which offers 50-megabit-per-second downloads, is only a dream. And now we have yet another reason to be jealous of the lucky folks living in what was once a rent stabilized enclave for middle-income New Yorkers.

Seven buildings in the complex have already been hooked up to the fiber network, according to the Associated Press. And the rest of the deployment is expected throughout the spring and summer.

Initially, Verizon targeted single-family homes in its rollout of Fios. About a year ago, it started targeting apartment buildings in major cities like New York. I was excited about the news when it first came out--until I talked to my contacts at the company who sadly told me it was highly unlikely that my six-story walk-up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan would ever be considered for Fios.

Currently, Verizon has deployed Fios to a handful of high-rise apartments in each of the city's five boroughs. Residents today are only able to get telephone service and high-speed Internet. But the company is negotiating a TV franchise deal with the city, the AP reported.

This means that unlike most New Yorkers, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village residents will soon have three choices for their phone, TV and high-speed Internet services: Time Warner Cable, RCN, and now Verizon.

Stuyvesant Town and Peter Copper Village were built by the insurance company MetLife in 1947 to house returning veterans from World War II. And up until 2006 when it was sold for $5.4 billion to real estate developer Tishman Speyer Properties, the complex offered thousands of apartments to working class families far below market rate.

The apartments are known to be much more spacious than most shoe-box sized apartments in Manhattan. And because many of the apartments were rent-stabilized, living there was the envy of many New Yorkers in a city that has seen rents and property values soar decade after decade. As you might imagine, scoring one of these apartments was like winning the lottery. For years, I daydreamed about what I would do with all the saved rent money and all that wonderful living space had I ever been able to live in "Stuytown."

Today, many of the rent-stabilized apartments in Stuyvesant Town are gone and rents are just as high as they are all over the city. But now that residents are getting Fios, which offers broadband downloads up to 50Mbps and uploads up to 20Mbps, I'm green with envy once again.

I understand that it's not financially practical for Verizon to spend the capital to dig up streets and lay fiber to my tiny building. But I think I speak for millions of people in Verizon's territory, who see the Verizon Fios TV commercials and will never be able to get the service, when I say, "If you can hear me now, Verizon, please bring fiber to my home!"

 

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