RealTime IT News

Verizon Cracks Maryland's Cable Market

Verizon added another piece to its fiber-optic video market Tuesday when Howard County, Md., authorized the phone giant to begin offering its FiOS television service in the prosperous Washington, D.C., suburb.

With its more than 265,000 potential viewers, Howard County is the first Maryland jurisdiction to grant Verizon a cable franchise. Verizon already has FiOS systems in place in Texas, Florida and Virginia.

Under the 15-year agreement, Verizon will provide FiOS TV to portions of the county where Verizon's fiber network is currently being built, reaching a large majority of customers within three years.

Verizon plans to extend FiOS TV across the county over the next seven years, as it constructs its fiber network in the areas served by the company's central switching offices.

The company is hoping that FiOS TV, with its fast speeds and ability to carry data, voice and video, will lure customers from rival telecoms and ISPs that offer DSL over copper and cable operators selling broadband through coax.

"Competition drives innovation, value and service quality, and it puts the consumer in control," William R. Roberts, Verizon's Maryland president, said in a statement. He vowed to "compete aggressively" to allow consumers to "choose their cable provider as easily as they choose their phone company."

The deal with Howard County also contains provisions for financial support and capacity for educational and government access channels, cable service to government buildings and insurance, indemnification and enforcement protections.

FiOS TV is delivered over Verizon's fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network, which has the capacity to provide consumers with voice, video and data services. Verizon launched

FiOS TV last year in Keller, Texas, unveiling a collection of all-digital programming with more than 330 total channels.

Verizon plans to surpass 1 million homes and businesses in parts of nine states with fiber by the end of the year.