Verizon told the Pittsburgh City Council Monday (Aug. 31) that the company is ready, willing and able to bring its FiOS TV service - delivered over the company's advanced, all-fiber-optic network - and real TV choice to more than 160,000 households throughout the Steel City.
Verizon is prepared to make a significant investment in the city, and plans to offer a competitive cable alternative to all of Pittsburgh within six years of the effective date of a cable franchise that is being considered by the Council.
"We at Verizon are eager to bring cable TV competition to the city," said Bill Carnahan, Verizon vice president for external affairs in western Pennsylvania, in testimony delivered before the Council's Committee on General and Government Services. "We know customers want a new alternative for cable TV, and we agree with them that the time is now."
The 10-year franchise agreement is designed to serve the needs of more than 160,000 households that will have access to FiOS TV, as well as households in multiple-dwelling units. The principal provisions of the Verizon franchise include:
- The largest single investment made by a telecommunications company in Pittsburgh: the deployment of Verizon's state-of-the-art FiOS TV service throughout the city over the six years following the franchise ordinance's effective date. FiOS TV offers an all-digital lineup of more than 500 channels - including more than 120 high-definition (HD) channels - and a growing library of more than 15,000 video-on-demand titles each month, including more than 1,400 HD titles.
- Payment of franchise fees equivalent to 5 percent of gross revenues on cable TV service.
- Payment of a $350,000 government access grant to the Cable Bureau of the city's Department of Information Systems.
- Payment of a $350,000 grant to support the city's public, education and government access channels.
- Up to five public, educational and governmental access channels for use by the city over the life of the agreement.
- An extensive and appropriate set of customer service provisions.
Currently, only one franchised legacy cable TV company operates in the city, effectively leaving consumers with little or no competitive choice for their cable TV news, information and entertainment.
Carnahan said, "Our city residents watch as cable franchises are awarded in towns and municipalities throughout Allegheny County, and they have told us it is now their time. They want and deserve the same kind of cable choice their suburban counterparts enjoy.
"The agreement before you is fair," he told the committee. "It is the result of hundreds of hours of work by the city and by Verizon and, most important, it offers the right means of opening the door to real cable TV choice and competition in Pittsburgh."
Carnahan pointed out that Verizon is a major private employer, philanthropist and taxpayer in Pittsburgh. Nearly 1,800 Verizon employees work in the city, and more than 800 of them are city residents. The company also has a proud history of being a union company, with almost all of its union employees represented by the Communications Workers of America.
"Verizon has a vested personal and professional interest in delivering the best telecommunications services to our customers - because in so many cases, they're our friends, our neighbors and our family," said Carnahan.