Although Scituate residents have been begging Verizon to bring FIOS fiber optic service into their town for years, residents won’t be seeing the service anytime soon.
The issue was brought up at a selectmen meeting last week, where several residents and selectmen lamented the fact that despite requests, Verizon’s new service hasn’t made an appearance in the town.
“We have constantly petitioned them. One of reason is thy have a schedule and Scituate isn’t on it for next year or two,” selectman Jo Norton said. “But it’s not because of any desire in the town not to have it.”
Currently, both Comcast/Xfinity and DIRECTV, both which service Scituate, raised rates this year.
DIRECTV implemented a 4 percent increase in prices as of Feb. 9, Comcast saw an increase of 2.9 percent for the average customer.
Bringing in Verizon FIOS might possibly create enough competition to stop that from happening, or at least provide another option to residents, selectman Rick Murray said.
“I would like it just for competition,” Murray said. “Right now Comcast keeps raising our rates, and I hear different things. Personally I’m fine with Comcast, but I’ve heard a lot of complaints and their rates keep going up. You have to think if there was an alterative, Comcast would think twice about moving this package around.”
Even more frustrating is that numerous surrounding communities have the service, including Hull, Braintree, Dedham, Randolph, Hanover, Norwell, Cohasset, Marshfield, Duxbury, Kingston, and Plymouth.
The result is numerous complaints and requests that come to the selectmen’s attention every month.
“Once every other month we get some Scituate resident making a bonafide complaint, and all we can say is we’ve tried…there’s nothing we can do, but we keep at it,” Murray said.
Despite the prevalent demand, Verizon representative Rick Colon said the company has put franchise expansion on hold for the time being.
After authorizing a capital build out for $23 billion to bring FIOS to 19 million homes, in late 2009, the company decided to shift its focus.
“The business is focused on finishing the build out commitments that we have across our national footprint with the franchises we’ve secured,” Colon said. “At the same time we’re trying to improve penetration rates, gradually taking on more customers but we would like to see that penetration rate higher, so it’s a two pronged focus right now - finish what we started, improve the penetration rate.”
According to Colon, Scituate isn’t alone in their request for FIOS. Out of the 351 cities and towns in the state, 2/3 of them don’t have access to FIOS.
“There is no estimate as to when we might get back into taking on new franchisees. It’s really a factor of we’ll see how the penetration rate continues to grow and we will look at things on an annual basis in terms of our capital spending,” Colon said.
Representatives from DIRECTV were not immediately available, however Comcast representatives say rate increases are a necessity.
“While we’ve worked hard to hold down price adjustments, the average customer bill will increase by 2.9% in the Greater Boston Region beginning with the February 2012 billing cycle because of the impact of higher programming costs and increased operating expenses,” said Doreen Vigue, vice president of public relations for Comcast. “These adjustments will not impact the vast majority of our customers because they currently receive services as part of a promotional offer.”
Furthermore, the customer service and products Comcast provides is the best in the region, Vigue said.
“We plan on serving that area for many years to come,” Vigue said.