N.Y. Won’t Halt Verizon Build

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Utility regulators in New York Wednesday rejected a bid from cities, Cablevision Systems Corp. and the state's cable association to stop Verizon Communications Inc.’s fiber-to-the-home buildout until it obtained cable franchises.

Deciding a declaratory-ruling request from the communities and cable incumbents, the board of the state Department of Public Service agreed with Verizon's assertion that the build is a plant upgrade, not a cable system, as defined in state law.

As such, no franchises are needed until the telco installs equipment exclusively for the delivery of video or begins delivering video service.

Both sides found things to like in the ruling.

Richard Alteri, president of the Cable Television Association of New York, stressed that this was a decision on very narrow legal grounds, adding that the regulator’s ruling reasserted that Verizon will need franchises going forward. The ruling also restated the rights of the cities to control activities in their rights of way.

Verizon was pleased that the DPS declined the request of the cities and incumbents to stop the fiber build immediately until the telephone company got cable franchises.

Paul Crotty, president of Verizon New York/Connecticut, said in a prepared statement that the company will not offer cable service in selected communities until a franchise is obtained. "We look forward to working with public officials at all levels to bring consumer choice and new economic-development opportunities to our state," he added.

Cablevision said it was “pleased,” too: “The PSC today affirmed that Verizon needs local franchise agreements to provide cable-television service in New York. We are pleased that the commission upheld the important and well-established role of municipalities in regulating the delivery of cable-television service in their communities, which we believe is an essential element of fair competition on a level playing field.”

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