NEWARK, N.J. - Twenty-six communities, business organizations and a county freeholder board are calling on Gov. Richard Codey and state legislators to end the cable industry's stranglehold on the video marketplace.
The resolutions were issued over the past month, with Howell Township this week becoming the most recent community to support updating New Jersey's 30-year-old laws to permit state-issued franchises. Under current law, a competitor to the monopoly cable-TV provider must obtain franchises community-by-community, a time-consuming process that inhibits competition.
Other communities and organizations that have passed resolutions calling for streamlined franchising are Belmar, Leonia, Monroe Township in Middlesex County, Avon-by-the-Sea, Bradley Beach, Cliffside Park, Emerson, Glen Gardner, East Rutherford, Spring Lake Borough, Spring Lake Heights, Stockton, Ridgefield, Pequannock Township, Manville, Prospect Park, Point Pleasant Beach, Park Ridge Borough, Perth Amboy, Washington Township in Mercer County, the Middlesex County Board of Freeholders, and the Greater Paterson, Middlesex Regional, Tri-County and Morris County Chambers of Commerce.
"Legislators, local officials and New Jersey residents are saying loud and clear: They want competition and choice in the video market, and they want it now," said Dennis Bone, president of Verizon New Jersey. "New Jerseyans are tired of cable's price hikes, which have become as seasonal as football and trick-or-treat. Cable rates have increased an average of 38 percent over the past five years."
A recent poll by Verizon New Jersey found that nearly eight out of 10 New Jerseyans support updating the state's outdated video franchise laws. Streamlined franchising would speed consumer choice and competition for video services while still protecting communities and consumers.
Updated franchise legislation under discussion would require Verizon and any other new cable provider to:
- Pay as much or more in franchise fees as the current monopoly provider.
- Carry public education and government (PEG) channels and free video hook-ups for municipal facilities.
- Comply with new or existing prohibitions on redlining.
At the same time, the bill would continue municipal management of rights of way.
"The cable industry says it's for competition," said Bone. "If that's true, they should support, not oppose, reforming New Jersey's outdated laws to give consumers something they haven't had in three decades -- choice and competition."
Texas recently enacted a streamlined video franchise law. As a result, Verizon announced it was accelerating the availability of its FiOS TV service to 21 additional communities in Texas. Verizon launched FiOS TV Sept. 22 in Keller, Texas, unveiling a broad collection of all-digital programming with more than 330 total channels and more on the way.
Known as fiber-to-the-premises, or FTTP, the fiber-optic network uses hair-thin strands of fiber and optical electronics to directly link homes and businesses to Verizon's network. The new network will unleash a range of advanced communications services, including voice, super high-speed data and advanced video services. To date, Verizon has announced it's deploying its state-of-the-art network in more than 80 New Jersey communities.
"Verizon is committed to building in New Jersey our nation's first large-scale, all-fiber network," said Bone. "This exciting technology can provide new choices for video and Internet-access services, but the cable industry is lobbying to retain barriers to competition."
With more than $71 billion in annual revenues, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon has a diverse work force of more than 214,000 in four business units: Domestic Telecom provides customers based in 28 states with wireline and other telecommunications services, including broadband. Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 47.4 million voice and data customers across the United States. Information Services operates directory publishing businesses and provides electronic commerce services. International includes wireline and wireless operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.