Verizon Proposes Measure to Speed Video Choice for Massachusetts Consumers

BOSTON - A proposal to speed up the process for giving consumers in Massachusetts a real alternative to cable television was introduced today by Verizon.

In a filing with the state Department of Telecommunications and Energy (DTE), Verizon called for a shorter and more certain time frame for obtaining local franchises to offer video services. The filing is a limited step that would affect only the timing of local franchise decisions and does not address other aspects of the franchise process.

"Consumers in Massachusetts are saying they want a choice when it comes to video services," said Donna Cupelo, Verizon president for Massachusetts and Rhode Island, "and studies show that competition brings enormous benefits including lower prices and better service. Bay State residents should be given every opportunity to take advantage of the choices competitive markets bring, sooner rather than later."

Today's filing would require a franchise decision to be made within a fixed period of time but would not otherwise change the role of local governments in negotiating and awarding franchises to competitive video service providers.

"The time has come to update regulations that were created when there was one monopoly cable provider," Cupelo said. "The existing process discourages competition and protects the incumbent cable companies. This proposal recognizes the presence of new competitors like Verizon in the marketplace, and it offers a simpler, quicker franchise approval process.

"The world has changed," she said. "It's time for Massachusetts residents to realize the benefits of cable competition."

Studies show the introduction of competition, such as Verizon's FiOS TV, in cable markets results in significant price reductions and improvements in customer service and packages of video, voice and high-speed Internet services. A 2004 study by the Government Accountability Office found that where wireline cable competition exists, a monopoly provider's prices are on average approximately 15 percent lower. Customer service also improves. In areas where Verizon has introduced its FiOS TV, including New York, Texas, Florida, Virginia and Massachusetts, several other studies found incumbent cable providers have responded with reduced prices.

Verizon began deploying its FTTP (fiber-to-the-premises) technology in Massachusetts nearly two years ago and, to date, has obtained video franchises in two communities - Woburn and Reading. Verizon is currently in negotiations with nearly 40 other communities in Massachusetts to obtain additional franchises.

Delivered over Verizon's FTTP network, FiOS TV is designed to be a formidable competitor to cable and satellite. The FTTP network, the largest of its kind in the country, is currently being deployed in more than half the states where the company offers landline communications services, including more than 50 Massachusetts communities. The network brings the power and capacity of fiber optics directly into people's homes and 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. It also delivers Internet download speeds of up to 30 Mbps (megabits per second) and upload speeds of up to 5 Mbps as well as high-quality voice services.

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 51.3 million customers nationwide; one of the most expansive wholly-owned global IP networks; and one of the nation's premier wireline networks, serving home, business and wholesale customers. Based in New York, Verizon has a diverse workforce of approximately 250,000 and generates annual consolidated operating revenues of approximately $90 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.