Howard County Council Grants Verizon Authority to Offer FiOS TV to More Than 265,000 Potential Viewers

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. - The long wait will soon be over for Howard County residents eager for cable TV competition, thanks to a unanimous Howard County Council vote Tuesday night (Jan. 3) authorizing Verizon to offer its fiber-optic-powered FiOS TV in the county.

With its more than 265,000 potential viewers, Howard County is the first Maryland jurisdiction to grant Verizon a cable franchise. Verizon launched FiOS TV Sept. 22, 2005, in Keller, Texas, unveiling a broad collection of all-digital programming with more than 330 total channels and more on the way. The company also offers FiOS TV in Herndon and Fairfax County in Virginia, as well as other locations in Texas and Florida.

Availability plans for FiOS TV in Howard County will be announced soon.

"We applaud the County Council, along with the County Executive and the Office of Cable Administration, for moving Howard County to the forefront of communities nationwide where consumers will be able to choose their cable provider as easily as they choose their phone company," said William R. Roberts, Verizon Maryland president. "Competition drives innovation, value and service quality, and it puts the consumer in control.

"Verizon will compete aggressively for Howard Countians' business with our FiOS services, which are fueled by our lightning-fast fiber-optic network."

Under the 15-year agreement, which becomes effective in early March, Verizon will begin to provide FiOS TV to portions of the county where Verizon's fiber network is currently being built, reaching a large majority of customers within three years. The company plans to extend FiOS TV across the county over the next seven years as it constructs its fiber network in the areas served by the company's central switching offices.

In addition, the agreement contains provisions for the network's future growth; financial support and capacity for educational and government access channels; cable service to government buildings; and other important benefits to the county, including insurance, indemnification and enforcement protections.

FiOS TV is designed to be a formidable competitor to cable and satellite. It is delivered over Verizon's fiber-to-the-premises network, which has industry-leading quality and reliability. Fiber delivers amazingly sharp pictures and sound, and has the capacity to transmit a wide array of high-definition programming that is so clear and intense it seems to leap from the TV screen. Verizon's network design includes backup facilities not common to traditional cable systems, such as duplicate "head ends" where the TV service receives national programming.

In addition to FiOS TV, Verizon's fiber network also allows the company to offer consumers and businesses high-speed FiOS Internet Service at download speeds of up to 30 mbps (megabits per second) and upload speeds up to 5 mbps.* FiOS Internet Service currently is available to many consumers and small businesses in the Columbia and Ellicott City areas of Howard County, as well as parts of Anne Arundel, Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

* NOTE: actual (throughput) speeds will vary.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), a Dow 30 company, is a leader in delivering broadband and other communication innovations to wireline and wireless customers. Verizon operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving 49.3 million customers nationwide, and one of the nation's premier wireline networks, serving home, business and wholesale customers in 28 states. Based in New York, Verizon has a diverse workforce of nearly 215,000 and generates annual revenues of more than $71 billion from four business segments: Domestic Telecom, Domestic Wireless, Information Services and International. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.