Many residents have asked why Ayer does not have a similar contract with Verizon Corporation, which introduced its FIOS broadband network In the summer of 2009, Verizon chose two localities in the North Central Middlesex County and Northern Worcester County areas to receive FIOS service. Those localities were Fitchburg (12,500 Comcast subscribers), and Ayer (3300 Comcast Subscribers). At that time, the Ayer Cable Advisory Committee (CAC) had been approached by Verizon representatives to begin discussions on a Cable TV franchise license.
In the fall of 2009, Verizon had already begun to slow its pace of FIOS installations. At the time, Verizon cited the high cost of connecting a home, versus the low rate of return the company would receive from that installation. After the ice storm hit, Verizon indefinitely postponed all of the pending new FIOS builds. During the same period, Verizon approached the state legislature in an unsuccessful attempt to change the CATV licensing laws (207 CMR). Verizon proposed a state-wide CATV license, that would allow the company to avoid the time and expense of gaining a license in each town and city where the company sought to deliver FIOS broadband service. (Decades earlier, Comcast was required to negotiate with each town and city as required by state law, a practice that resulted in local television broadcasting in Ayer, and many other towns in the Commonwealth.) That attempt was defeated, and Verizon subsequently ceased, or declined, to initiate FIOS implementations underway in several communities in the Commonwealth, including not only Ayer and Fitchburg, but also Boston, as well as many others .
The Ayer CAC and BOS do not agree with Verizon’s contention that Ayer, or any other community in the Commonwealth, would be better served by the terms of a one-fits-all license negotiated by the state. Ayer has its own unique context and communications needs, as exemplified by the Comcast Contract, which provides funding for infrastructure, equipment and other local resources dedicated to local video programming content.