NEW YORK - Following the successful rollout of Verizon FiOS TV, Verizon is adding an interactive weather and traffic feature to complement its popular fiber-optic television service. Called FiOS TV Widgets, the service is available at no additional cost to customers with a set-top box, and is the first of several product enhancements that will let subscribers control and share entertainment and information throughout the home.
Later this year, Verizon will add a multi-room digital video recorder and a feature that lets customers access PC-based photos and music on their televisions. Additional new services are planned for 2007.
FiOS TV Widgets supplies one-touch, on-demand access to real-time local weather and traffic information. Subscribers use their remote control to display text-based weather and traffic on their TV screens without interrupting the program they are watching. For example, parents leaving the house for a Saturday morning of errands can get the latest traffic update without interrupting the kids' cartoon show.
"FiOS TV is grabbing market share from cable because it's just better," said Marilyn O'Connell, Verizon senior vice president - video solutions. "With our new applications like Widgets, customers can better personalize and control their TV viewing. These services also differentiate FiOS TV in the marketplace by showcasing Verizon innovation and our platform's unique capabilities."
FiOS TV delivers brilliant pictures, an abundance of high-definition channels and high-value programming over America's largest all-fiber broadband network.
Greg Ireland, consumer video research manager for IDC, a global provider of market intelligence, advisory services and events for the information technology, telecommunications and consumer technology markets, said, "It's no secret that a unique, highly personalized user experience is a path to more robust in-home TV entertainment. With the introduction of FiOS TV Widgets, Verizon is aggressively moving forward on that path."
Widgets displays local traffic and weather based on the customer's ZIP code. The first time customers access the service, they use their remote control to pull down a Widgets menu from the FiOS TV Interactive Programming Guide and enter their five-digit ZIP code on the keypad. Verizon-developed software manages the interaction between the remote control and the Web server where the Widgets traffic and weather information is stored. Once retrieved, weather and traffic are displayed individually beneath the current programming. After setting up the service, customers can access Widgets simply by pressing a button on the remote. To view traffic and weather from across the country, they can return to the menu and enter a different ZIP code.
Future Widgets enhancements may include personalized news, sports scores and fantasy-league sports results or community information. Widgets is a software upgrade to the FiOS TV system and requires no additional equipment or service calls. Verizon is making Widgets available by market, and deployment will be completed with the north Texas market in the next several weeks.
Widgets and the other interactive services planned for the FiOS TV platform will tap the strengths of Verizon's fiber-to-the-premises network, with its powerful voice, data and video capabilities.
"Customers increasingly want to share information, photos, music and videos across a home network," O'Connell said. "Our FiOS TV platform will make this all possible. In the coming months, you'll see us add new features to FiOS TV that will make it easy for customers to enjoy a true multimedia experience."
Ireland of IDC said, "Enabling easy and convenient sharing of digital multimedia content throughout the home is the next logical step for FiOS TV, as Verizon - a relative newcomer to the space - continues to enhance and define its customizable information services like Widgets. While the boundaries of the digital in-home entertainment experience are still a work in progress, service providers that execute on compelling solutions will lead the wave of innovation sweeping the consumer marketplace."
FiOS TV provides a broad collection of all-digital programming with more than 400 total channels, two-dozen high-definition channels, video on demand and more. It is delivered over Verizon's fiber-to-the-premises network to more than 50 communities in seven states: California, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia and Texas. Verizon is adding new cities and states to its FiOS TV network as it obtains local franchises giving it the legal authority to do so. Several independent studies have shown that cable companies respond with lower prices in markets where Verizon offers its highly competitive FiOS TV service.
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.