Verizon connects FiOS to Manhattan apartment complex

ByPeter Svensson, Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Verizon's fiber-optic service, so far mainly available to suburbanites, is making a big push into Manhattan with a deal to connect an 11,232-unit apartment complex.

Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, an enclave of 110 buildings on Manhattan's East Side, is the largest apartment complex in Manhattan and the largest to get FiOS service anywhere in Verizon's 17-state fiber buildout area.

Verizon Communications announced the deal Monday, but seven buildings are already connected. It will take some months to connect the rest.

Single-family houses have been the low-hanging fruit for the company's $23 billion project to replace its copper phone lines with fiber optics. Connecting apartments is technically more difficult and requires permission from landlords.

At the end of last year, 560,000 apartments in Verizon's phone service area were open to FiOS marketing through deals with landlords, out of the 2.4 million apartments that could technically be connected because the company has run fiber down the street.

Only scattered buildings in New York City have FiOS. Eric Cevis, head of the FiOS unit that focuses on apartment buildings, could not say how many buildings are connected, but said there are FiOS installations in all five boroughs of the city.

It's unclear when FiOS will be more widely available. Verizon has no video franchise agreement with the city, so it can provide only Internet and phone service over fiber. It is negotiating to get permission to provide the full "triple play" that includes cable TV.

"We really like triple-play areas," Cevis said, saying the company prioritizes them because they provide a better return on investment.

When a tenant in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village orders FiOS, Verizon will pull the fiber all the way into the apartment. In other buildings, the apartments sometimes have no space for the wall-mounted box that translates the optical signal into triple-play service. In those cases, the company draws fiber into the basement, then uses phone lines and coaxial cable to take the Internet and video signals to the apartments. That solution limits future Internet speed increases.

Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village are already served by two cable companies: Time Warner Cable and RCN. Both provide triple-play services.

The complex is owned by Tishman Speyer Properties LP, which bought it for $5.4 billion in 2006.

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