TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Verizon Enters Cable Picture / Negotiating Fees to be 3rd Provider

Verizon Enters Cable Picture / Negotiating Fees to be 3rd Provider

Monty Solomon (
Mon, 23 Jan 2006 00:09:50 -0500

Verizon enters cable picture
Negotiating fees to be 3d provider

By Connie Paige, Globe Correspondent

Newton residents could be the winners if a looming three-way battle
for their cable TV dollars pushes down rates.

Verizon is seeking a cable franchise from the city, which is already
served by Comcast and RCN.

But first the telecommunications giant and the city have to agree on
fees to support local-access programming and customer service

"We have some requirements that other providers fulfill," said
Jeremy Solomon, the city spokesman. "We are asking Verizon to
fulfill those same requirements. If they meet them or surpass them,
we'll consider their application."

A spokesman for Verizon, the corporate descendant of New England
Telephone, said the company is committed to local access programming
and providing competitive customer service in Newton, but working out
the details takes time.

"We think the negotiations are very much on track," Verizon spokesman
John Hoey said Monday. The company is scheduled to meet with city
officials again next month.

If granted the franchise in Newton, Verizon would vie for an estimated
25,000 customers, according to Theresa Park, telecommunications
specialist in the city's Department of Planning and
Development. Comcast has 80 percent of the cable market, the city

Newton is one of more than 30 communities in Massachusetts where
Verizon is trying to offer telephone, high-speed Internet, and
television services over a fiber-optic network, called FiOS, that it
touts as being faster than the cable companies' equipment. The rollout
appears to be taking longer than expected.

A year ago, Verizon announced Holliston, Hopkinton, Lexington,
Lincoln, Natick, Sherborn, and Westborough, along with Newton, as
among the local targeted communities.

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