Verizon Pulls the Fiber Alarm


Not that I blame Verizon for trying to defend its $23 billion FiOS fiber-to-the-home network, but the telco’s objection to Comcast’s claim that it delivers services over a fiber-optic network is just plain silly (see Better Business Bureau Refers Comcast ‘Fiber-Optic’ Claim To FTC).

Why is it silly? Because Comcast actually does deliver services over a fiber-optic network — which now spans more than 147,000 route miles of fiber nationwide, according to the cable operator.

The basis of Verizon’s complaint, which it lodged with the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, is that because Comcast’s HFC network uses coaxial cable to connect to subscribers’ homes the MSO can’t claim to employ a “fiber-optic network.”

Well, if that’s the purist definition Verizon is putting forward, it could be argued that FiOS TV isn’t delivered over a “fiber-optic network” either, given that the telco uses coaxial cable to deliver video programming within a subscriber’s home. (This was also pointed out by a reader commenting on my story yesterday.)

Because Verizon uses digital cable/IP set-tops from Motorola, it was ironic that a FiOS TV ad campaign last year slandered cable as somehow based on archaic technology — see FiOS: History Lesson.

Comcast didn’t engage in the NAD’s dispute-resolution process on the complaint, citing concerns that Verizon’s lawyers had access to proprietary information related to some unspecified multidistrict litigation. If an advertiser doesn’t cooperate with the NAD, the group routinely refers the matter to the appropriate government agency (in this case, the Federal Trade Commission).

Meanwhile, Verizon has itself been accused of deceptive and misleading advertising more than once.

Just two weeks ago, Comcast called Verizon’s claims that FiOS TV now offers “nearly twice the VOD” Comcast does “absolutely untrue.”

The New Jersey Attorney General has sued Verizon alleging the telco engaged in “deceptive and misleading” marketing, sales, billing and customer service practices related to its FiOS services.

In November 2008, the NAD — acting on a complaint by Cablevision — recommended that Verizon modify or discontinue certain claims that its FiOS service offers superior sound and picture quality, including that it offers the “the best TV picture, period,” as well as a testimonial claim “it’s the best picture and sound you’re ever gonna get. It’s insane.”

And earlier in 2008, Verizon agreed to discontinue TV ads for FiOS TV quoting a CNET article that included the phrase “a near-flawless TV experience” — which the technology news site said was taken out of context.