Franchise, Launches for FiOS TV

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Verizon Communications Inc. gained its fifth franchise approval in Virginia and actually launched its video service in its first communities in New York and Massachusetts.

The city council in Falls Church, Va., unanimously approved the franchise agreement Monday, allowing the regional Bell operating company to provide video competition to 10,900 people. Cox Communications Inc. is the community's incumbent.

Last year, Verizon was awarded franchises for Fairfax County, the city of Fairfax, the town of Herndon and the Quantico Marine Corps base. But the company has argued that the pace of regulatory approvals is not quick enough, and it has filed a bill in the state to ensure that franchise negotiations would be limited to 120 days.

The RBOC also established beachheads for its Verizon FiOS TV service in New York and Massachusetts Tuesday, announcing that it is offering the fiber-to-the-home-based digital-TV service to customers in Massapequa Park on Long Island and in Woburn, Mass.

Massapequa Park, a community of 17,000 residents, is the first FiOS TV market in New York. Verizon also has video-franchise agreements with Long Island townships Nyack and South Nyack, but it is awaiting additional approval from the New York Public Service Commission before it can start offering the service in those communities.

Verizon also lit up FiOS TV in Woburn, a community of 37,000 north of Boston. Woburn is the first Massachusetts market for FiOS TV, although the company is now in negotiations with more than 30 other cities in the state.

In Massapequa Park and Woburn, Verizon is offering a lineup of TV-service packages starting with a core 180 digital-video-channel and music-channel offering for a $39.95 monthly subscription.

Customer can choose between three set-top boxes for their FiOS TV service -- a standard-definition unit for $3.95 per month; an HD box able to access HD channels for $9.95; and a dual-tuner digital-video recorder and HD set-top for $12.95.

The service also offers options for more than 20 HD channels and north of 1,800 video-on-demand titles, the latter of which will rise to 2,000 in the next several months, according to Verizon.

So far, Verizon has also obtained video franchises in California, Florida and Virginia, and it has unveiled FiOS TV in Temple Terrace, Fla., as well as in Herndon and surrounding parts of Fairfax County, Va. In Texas, Verizon has received a statewide franchise and has accelerated its FiOS TV rollout there, with service now available in 14 north Texas communities.

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