Va. Gov. Signs Competition Bill

3/10/2006 6:53 AM Eastern

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine has signed into law a bill that keeps cable franchising local but cuts to 75 the maximum number of days allowed for negotiating a pact.

The terms of the bill will take effect July 1.

Telephone companies, which sought the change in policy, did not pursue rules to enable statewide franchising because the commonwealth's constitution guarantees the local governments the right to choose their own franchisees.

Verizon Communications Inc. Virginia president Robert Woltz Jr. said his firm and other potential competitors can now invest in infrastructure knowing they that will be able to get new products to market more quickly. Verizon will announce its plan for Verizon FiOS TV deployment in the coming weeks.

National Cable & Telecommunications Association CEO Kyle McSlarrow said Virginia has "set the bar" for federal and state legislators as they consider telecommunications-law changes. The Virginia law allows an opportunity for all providers to compete fairly, he said in a prepared statement.

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