The Baltimore County Council approved franchise talks with a potential third cable operator, Cavalier Telephone of Richmond, Va., a facilities-based competitive local exchange carrier.
If the talks come to fruition, the telco would compete against Comcast and Verizon Communications.
The county has a 90-day negotiation process, so the third provider could enter the business early next year if Cavalier and regulators can come to operating terms.
Cavalier, which operates in the mid-Atlantic, the Midwest and Southeast, currently offers a triple play of telephone, high-speed Internet service and pay TV programming in Virginia communities including Richmond, Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads.
While Cavalier has a $1 billion fiber network counting 3,000 miles of metro fiber, the company will make its entry into the county via copper lines leased from Verizon, the county said. .
The agreement will be subject to a public hearing and another vote of the county council.