D.C. Office of Cable Television, Verizon Negotiate Franchise Agreement; Legislation Approving Franchise Introduced for D.C. Council Review

WASHINGTON - Residents and businesses in the nation's capital are closer to more choice for their TV service with the introduction Tuesday (Oct. 7) of legislation regarding a franchise agreement between the D.C. Office of Cable Television (OCT) and Verizon Washington, DC.  The Council of the District of Columbia now will consider the agreement and subsequently vote on whether to approve it.

The legislation, which was introduced at the request of D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, was referred to the Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs, chaired by Councilmember Mary M. Cheh.

"The District of Columbia is the epicenter of one of the country's most technology-rich markets, and we look forward to the deployment of the latest video and broadband technology in our community," said Fenty.

OCT Director Eric E. Richardson said, "Verizon and OCT over the past 10 months negotiated a franchise agreement that ensures Verizon's deployment will touch on each of the District's eight wards over the next six years.  The agreement also includes support for public, educational and governmental access channels and strong customer-service standards."

Subject to franchise approval by year-end, Verizon plans to begin designing and upgrading its network in the District to all fiber optics and could begin offering its fiber-optic-based FiOS TV service in the District within about a year.

Councilmember Cheh said, "This bill will put the District on track to reap the benefits of an advanced, all-fiber-optic network that will offer additional cable TV competition and significantly higher broadband speeds.  We commend the Office of Cable Television and Verizon for their hard work in reaching this agreement, and I look forward to prompt review and consideration of the franchise legislation by my committee and the full Council that should be completed by the end of this year."

William R. Roberts, Verizon regional president for Maryland and Washington, D.C., said, "This franchise agreement paves the way for more TV competition in the nation's capital - a market Verizon has been proud to serve for more than a century.  We're eager to roll up our sleeves and get to work, and we urge the mayor and Council to act for more choice and competition by approving this agreement expeditiously."

Under the 15-year agreement, Verizon will - within three years of the agreement's effective date - offer service to all residences in an initial service area served by three Verizon switching offices in the District's northwest and southeast quadrants.  These offices serve customers in parts of the following neighborhoods: Barry Farm, Brightwood, Cleveland Park, Crestwood, Fort Stanton, Friendship Heights, Historic Anacostia, Petworth, Shepherd Park, Sheridan, Tenleytown, Van Ness and Woodley Park. 

Within six years, Verizon will expand its services to an extended service area that will include three more switching offices in the northeast, northwest and southwest quadrants.  These additional offices serve customers in parts of the following neighborhoods: Adams Morgan, Benning, Benning Heights, Buzzard Point, Deanwood, Dupont Circle, Eastland Gardens, Ft. McNair, Lincoln Heights, Logan Circle, Shaw and Southwest Waterfront.

Other franchise agreement highlights include:

  • Nine initial public, educational and governmental (PEG) access channels, with a provision for up to five additional PEG channels.

  • Payment of franchise fees equivalent to five percent of gross revenues on cable TV service.

  • Financial support for the District's PEG channels and institutional network (known as an INET) equivalent initially to 3 percent of gross revenues on cable TV service.

  • An extensive and appropriate set of customer service provisions.

The Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs plans to hold a public hearing on the franchise agreement before sending the legislation to the full Council for review and consideration. 

More information about Verizon and the franchise review process is available at www.verizon.com/dc or www.oct.dc.gov.