CHAMPION, Pa. - The legislative debate over hastening competition for cable TV service should not lose focus on Pennsylvania's consumers, who will benefit the most from such competition, Verizon's public policy leader in the state told members of the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs (PSAB) this morning.
"Today, the local franchise process denies people who live in your communities the undeniable benefits of cable competition" said William B. Petersen, president of Verizon Pennsylvania. "That's why Verizon supports Sen. [Dominic] Pileggi's recently unveiled Cable Choice and Competition Act. This legislation will produce a streamlined process that will bring competition to the video market, while protecting local interests."
Addressing participants at PSAB's conference, held at the Seven Springs Resort, Petersen discussed the changing communications landscape and how Verizon is the only company in the United States that is connecting its customers, on a mass scale, directly to its network with fiber, providing nearly unlimited bandwidth and the capacity to deliver that bandwidth in ways never imagined before.
"Verizon's fiber network also gives consumers something they have wanted for a long time: a real choice for video TV service," said Petersen. "Verizon's fiber network is the first real competitive alternative to cable."
Petersen said that Verizon has been working hard to gain local franchises but that, as the Federal Communications Commission has concluded, the current local franchise process is an unreasonable burden.
The franchise process "is a relic of a time when there was no competition for cable TV at all, and cable providers were granted effective monopolies at the time they first signed their local franchise agreements," Petersen said.
Petersen encouraged local officials to take time to review the cable choice bill. "What you may have been told about the legislation and what the legislation actually says are two different things," he said.
Petersen explained how the Cable Choice and Competition Act would affect local governments and clarified misconceptions about the legislation. He said the legislation:
- Will not reduce franchise fees
- Will not strip local control over rights of way
- Will not undermine PEG channel support
- Will not harm customer service
Petersen also told the group about a benefit to local government that has been overlooked. "It will significantly save local resources - both money and time - that are currently spent on lengthy negotiations and allow you to use those resources in ways that benefit your communities," he said.
Petersen said that as the cable choice bill moves through the legislative process, "there will be much discussion about how the legislation will affect Verizon," as well as incumbent cable providers and local governments.
"In the end, this legislation is not about what is best for Verizon, what is best for cable companies," said Petersen. "Rather the real question is whether it is best for consumers."
Petersen told the group he believed that "this bill is what ordinary Pennsylvanians - the people who live and work in your communities - both want and need."
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), a Dow 30 company, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving 53 million customers nationwide. Verizon Business operates one of the most expansive wholly-owned global IP networks. Verizon Telecom is deploying the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network to deliver the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services to customers. Based in New York, Verizon has a diverse workforce of more than 250,000 and generates annual consolidated operating revenues of approximately $90 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.