The Apple of Verizon’s Eye

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Officials in the desert town of Apple Valley, Calif., have tentatively approved the third video franchise in the state for Verizon Communications Inc.

The approval is subject to a final vote Nov. 8. Second votes are normally a formality and give a town council the opportunity to clean up language or make nonsubstantive changes in resolutions.

The community, west of Los Angeles in San Bernardino County, has 22,000 homes, according to Verizon. When approved, the regional Bell operating company's video operation will compete with Charter Communications Inc.

Verizon's previous California approvals have been awarded by Beaumont, the telco's first national franchise grant, and Murrietta. None of the communities is contiguous.

According to the ordinance granting the franchise, Verizon will have a 15-year contract. Because it faces effective competition from Charter, Verizon's basic-cable rates will not be regulated. Initially, the telco will pay 2% of its gross revenues as a franchise fee, but that levy will escalate to 5% within four years. The franchise mandates that Verizon begin delivering video service by December 2007.

Verizon is required to provide PEG-access (public, educational and government) support equivalent to that provided by Charter, meaning if and when Charter activates three local channels, Verizon must interconnect and offer those channels, too.

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