Verizon looks to take on Comcast - Philadelphia News

January 23, 2009 4:00:38 PM PST
Telecommunication titan Verizon is again charging into competition with cable giant Comcast with fiber optic wires as its weapon. This time, the fight is for the wallets of Philadelphia TV viewers, but first, Verizon needs approval from city council.

Comcast's enormous LED TV in the lobby of their corporate headquarters is a symbol of the cable giant dominance in its hometown, but that appears on the verge of dramatic change.

A key council committee approved a bill granting Verizon a 15-year lease to wire Philadelphia for its new FiOS service.

Verizon promises to build a $1-billion fiber optic TV and internet network for the city and go head on competitively with Comcast, the nation's largest cable TV provider.

"Within seven years, we will build out the entire city, so we're talking about 600,000 residents in the city of Philadelphia, who for the first time in 20 years will have an alternative cable provider," Sharon Shaffer of Verizon said.

"There's no downside; it's good for consumers, it's good for business, they tell us it will bring down prices," Lance Haver, the Philadelphia Consumer Affairs Director, said.

In the wake of the council committee vote, Comcast refused to provide an on-camera spokesman, choosing instead to issue this statement:

"Competition is notthing new for Comcast. We compete every day across every area of our business. We love our competitive position. We continue to innovate, innovate, enhance, and deliver our triple play of products."

A key member of the council committee that Okayed Verizon's fiber optic plan says all this is healthy for cable customers.

"With competition, their rate increases are going to have to be slower," Councilman Frank Rizzo said.

Verizon sees this as the major breakthrough in their ongoing battle against Comcast's dominance. They hope to win the full council's approval early next month.

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