PHILADELPHIA - Verizon told the Philadelphia City Council Committee on Public Property and Public Works Wednesday (Dec. 3) that the company is ready, willing and able to install its advanced, all-fiber-optic network and bring real TV choice to more than 600,000 households throughout the city.
Verizon is prepared to make a significant investment in the city, and plans to offer competitive cable service to all of Philadelphia within seven years of the effective date of a cable franchise being considered by the Council.
"We at Verizon are eager to bring cable TV competition to the city," said Tabb Bishop, Verizon Pennsylvania vice president for external affairs, in testimony submitted to the committee. "We know customers want a new alternative for cable TV, and we agree with them that the time is now.
"More than 20 years is a very long wait for the thousands of city residents who want real wireline cable competition and who today have only one provider," said Bishop.
Verizon plans to bring fiber optics directly to every Philadelphian's home - something no other company has done. The 15-year franchise agreement is designed to serve the needs of more than 600,000 households that will have access to FiOS TV, including households in multiple dwelling units. The principal provisions of the Verizon franchise include:
- The largest investment made by a telecommunications company in Philadelphia: the full deployment of Verizon's state-of-the-art, fiber-to-the-premises network throughout the entire city within seven years of the franchise ordinance's effective date. This network delivers an all-digital FiOS TV lineup of approximately 500 channels - including more than 100 high-definition (HD) channels - and a growing library of more than 11,000 video-on-demand titles each month, including more than 1,000 HD titles.
- Payment of franchise fees equivalent to 5 per cent of gross revenues on cable TV service.
- Payment to the city of $2 million for a technology and education fund.
- Payment of $9.2 million in grants to support the city's public, education and government access channels.
- Up to 15 all-digital public, educational and governmental access channels for use by the city or its Public Access Corporation 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. While satellite providers may offer some a choice, for many Philadelphians it is not an option.
Bishop said, "Our city residents watch as cable franchises are awarded in towns and municipalities in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties, and in South Jersey and the state of Delaware. They want and deserve the same kind of cable choice their suburban counterparts enjoy.
"The agreement before you is fair," he told the Council 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 cable TV choice and competition in Philadelphia."
Bishop pointed out that Verizon is a major private employer, philanthropist and taxpayer in Philadelphia. More than 2,000 city residents are employed by Verizon, and the company has a proud history of being a union company, with a significant number of 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 Bishop.