Verizon will enter local cable market (1 Viewer)

cablewithaview

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Stand against retrans!!!
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Apr 18, 2005
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DeKalb County, AL
There's going to be a new cable television provider in town.

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to grant Verizon Communications the right to bring a cable franchise to the county.

A Verizon franchise will bring competition to existing cable companies in the county that have an estimated 74,000 subscribers.

Supervisor John Jenkins, D-Neabsco, said competition is good.

"This franchise does what is best for the county," Jenkins said.

The initial service areas, to be completed within two years of effective franchise date, would include parts of the Coles, Dumfries and Woodbridge districts and most of the Neabsco District. Verizon will offer service to a significant number of customers in the Brentsville and Gainesville districts within three years. Verizon plans to offer significant service to the remainder of the county within five years and completely cover the county within seven years provided the density of houses in an area warrants cable installation.

Verizon officials told the supervisors that the company would offer a basic package with 20 channels for $12.95.

Comcast offers a basic package of about 70 channels for about $48, said Comcast spokeswoman Lisa Altman.

Fairfax County, Falls Church, Herndon and Quantico Marine Corps Base have also recently approved Verizon's digital cable service that offers up to 350 channels of high definition programming and high-speed internet service.

Dumfries voted to allow a Verizon franchise May 9. Installation should begin in March, said Verizon spokeswoman Christy Reap, who did not have a completion date.

"Dumfries itself is a relatively small jurisdiction. We will be pushing through now that we have the approval," Reap said.

"It's certainly months not years," Reap said of the Dumfries installation schedule.

Verizon agreed to pay the county a 5 percent franchise fee and include government and education public access channels.

Verizon launched its digital cable service in Keller, Texas, in September 2005 and now offers service in parts of California, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Virginia.

The cost of cable subscriptions came down in Keller, a city of 36,400 just northeast of Fort Worth, after Verizon came into town to compete with Charter Communications, said Lyle Dresher, the city manager in Keller.

"The incumbent provider provided a cable package to new subscribers, and only for those new subscribers, that included a package of cable and Internet service that was about 35 percent less," Dresher said.

Having two cable providers in Keller has worked out for the customers, Dresher said.

"The advertising has increased and people do have a choice," Dresher said

"I guess we're pretty happy to be where we are and I think the customer has probably benefitted," Dresher said.

Charter's initial loss of customers eventually leveled off, and the two cable television and Internet providers are now running neck-and-neck, Dresher said.

"They're both kind of sharing the market," he said. "The competition has worked well."

Comcast, as the major cable provider in Prince William County, will likely feel the push from Verizon.

Altman said Comcast is prepared to do business in the market with a new kid in town.

"We've been competing for years in this market," Altman said.

"You can take a look at some of the other providers -- you've got Dish and Direct TV -- we're going to continue to provide our customers the best products and the robust advanced features," Altman said.

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