Wired City

Wired City

Fiber Challenge Winner: Gourmet Chocolate Company Tumbador Chocolate

Michael Altman is not happy with his current Internet connection. Head of gourmet chocolate company Tumbador Chocolate, Mr. Altman says the fastest Internet connection offered in his workplace is—wait for it—DSL. What is this, 1999?

“The DSL line goes off often, at least twice a month for a [full] day,” Mr. Altman said. “The line has been damaged since Hurricane Sandy. We go up and down all the time, meaning we have no Internet, or the Internet is so slow that dial-up is faster…When you have no Internet you might as well close and run away.”

michael altman Fiber Challenge Winner: Gourmet Chocolate Company Tumbador ChocolateThe problem is that Tumbador Chocolate is a small business located in Industry City: a Brooklyn industrial complex filled with warehouses and manufacturing plants. Mr. Altman says his service provider, Verizon, is overlooking the up-and-coming businesses that exist there, too.

“Verizon cherry picks where they want to be,” he said. ““It’s unfortunate that there are pockets in the city that they’re not covering. It’s bad for small business… I think a lot of businesses come here and they hear there’s only DSL, and they say no.”

It’s a bit of a vicious cycle, Mr. Altman suggested. The Sunset Park neighborhood is a viable location for New York startups to call home, but the longer Verizon goes without offering reliable Internet connection, the less likely businesses are to set up shop. And the fewer businesses there are that need Verizon’s services, the less likely he assumes Verizon is to offer more complex broadband options.

Last December, Tumbador entered the ConnectNYC Fiber Challenge in the hopes of improving their terrible connectivity. It wasn’t that Mr. Altman necessarily needed broadband seeds of 50mpbs, but it was the only conceivable alternative to DSL—he said Verizon offered nothing in between. “Either I get really crappy service, or I get the premium of premium services,” he said.

Tumbador was notified they’d won in June, but are still waiting for construction to start. Mr. Altman is growing slightly impatient (but then again, wouldn’t you, if your company’s Internet connection cut out for full days?) and presses Time Warner Cable for updates. “I just received the same update I received a month ago, and that is we’re still on target [for September 30],” he said.

For Tumbador Chocolate’s sake, we hope it stays that way!