Verizon to bring FiOS TV to Comcast's hometown

November 13, 2008 7:52:04 PM PST
Verizon Communications Inc. is bringing the fight over TV customers to the hometown of its biggest cable rival, Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable company. Verizon on Thursday asked Philadelphia's City Council to approve a 15-year video franchise agreement allowing it to offer fiber-optic TV service in the city. Councilman Darrell Clarke introduced an ordinance to give Verizon the right to run a cable TV service, a measure the council is expected to vote on by the end of the year.

New York-based Verizon said it could start offering FiOS TV in the first year after the deal goes into effect.

The phone company said the service should be available to one-third of households within three years, 70 percent in five years and throughout the city in seven years. Once the all-fiber network is in place, Verizon will offer FiOS high-speed Internet service as well.

The first areas to get FiOS would be spread across the city. "Philadelphia residents for too long have suffered from a lack of choice for their cable TV," Gale Given, president of Verizon Pennsylvania, said in a statement.

Comcast has a monopoly on cable service in Philadelphia and a big sales advantage over satellite providers because of its Comcast SportsNet, a channel that broadcasts most Phillies, Flyers and Sixers games. Satellite companies do not carry the channel, but Verizon will.

The franchise agreement before the City Council calls for Verizon to provide and support up to 15 public, educational and governmental channels, pay the city 5 percent of cable TV revenue in franchise fees, operate four local service centers and agree to certain customer service provisions. A Verizon spokeswoman said talks began in June between the company and the city, and they reached an agreement in November.

In July, Verizon received approval to offer FiOS TV in New York City, where the nation's second largest cable operator, Time Warner Cable Inc., is based and a core market for Cablevision Systems Corp.


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