Precedent Setting Victory for Braintree and Plymouth Against Verizon FIOS

Attorney Brian Winner obtained a significant victory for the Towns of Braintree and Plymouth in a matter that will likely have statewide significance. In a precedent setting decision, the Board of Electricians’ Appeals, on January 24, 2011, ruled that Verizon New England, Inc.’s so-called “FiOS” voice, video and data services are subject to the Massachusetts Electrical Code.

In approximately 2005 Verizon New England, Inc. introduced its FiOS service in Massachusetts. Since then Verizon has extended its FiOS network to an increasing number of communities. During that time Verizon contractors have installed thousands of miles of fiber optic cable and conduit to and into numerous homes and businesses throughout the Commonwealth. Verizon, however, took the position that its work within these homes and businesses was exempt from local oversight and that these installations, therefore, do not require any local permitting or inspections.

Although many communities disputed that claim, no state agency or court had ruled definitively on the issue until now. In 2010, inspectors in Plymouth and Braintree ordered Verizon and its installation contractors to obtain an electrical permit and to cease installations unless and until permits had been obtained. Verizon appealed those orders to the Board Electricians’ Appeals. Following an extensive hearing on December 13, 2010 at which Attorney Winner represented Braintree and Plymouth, the Board affirmed the inspectors’ orders and ruled that Verizon’s FiOS installations indeed were subject to local supervision.