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FiOS in Boston: Don’t just send film crews

In this frame grab from the new Verizon TV ad, Donnie Wahlberg stands in Copley Square.

In this frame grab from the new Verizon TV ad, Donnie Wahlberg stands in Copley Square.

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Verizon made an unfortunate public relations mistake with its new TV ad, “Here’s the Truth about FiOS in Massachusetts.” The ad, currently running in the Boston and Providence markets, stars Dorchester-bred actor (and former New Kid) Donnie Wahlberg, who talks in a tough-guy voice about New England authenticity while standing in front of Trinity Church, the John Hancock building, and a street full of Boston triple-deckers. It looks good, it sounds good, but it omits an important fact: FiOS isn’t available in Boston.

The cable carrier recently embarked on a $23 billion fiber optics outlay in the Northeast — laying wires in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, and 112 communities in Massachusetts — but decided not to enter the City of Boston, because the projected return on investment was too low. That’s a business decision, but it puts Boston customers in an unfortunate spot, since the best antidote to costly cable bills is competition.

So it’s no surprise that Boston residents, including Mayor Menino, see the ad as an expensive form of rubbing it in. A Verizon spokesman said the ad was intended to “get across the notion that we’re New Englanders; we know New England.” And when presenting images of New England, he said, “it’s hard to leave Boston out.” There are only two problems with that argument. First, Verizon is based in New York. And, second, there’s barely any scenery in the ad that isn’t from Boston proper — while, in real life, “leave Boston out” is precisely what the company did.

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