Pittsburgh Clears Way For FiOS TV

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Verizon Communications reached a tentative agreement with the city of Pittsburgh for a 10-year cable TV franchise agreement that would let the telco compete with Comcast.

The 10-year agreement is subject to the approval of City Council and the recommendation of the city's Cable Advisory Board.

"I am very pleased that the city and Verizon have reached an agreement that will pave the way for cable competition in Pittsburgh," Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said in a statement. "For the first time in the city's history, Pittsburgh residents will have a choice in their cable provider."

Under the terms of the agreement, Verizon will deploy cable service throughout the entire city within six years. In the first phase, FiOS TV is to be deployed to at least 50% of the city within three years of the effective date of the agreement.

Comcast's 10-year franchise agreement with the city expires at the end of 2009. Verizon will pay 5% of gross revenue to Pittsburgh, the same franchise fee Comcast pays.

Verizon has offered FiOS TV service in several Pittsburgh suburbs since the fall of 2007.

Pittsburgh's proposed agreement with Verizon includes customer-service standards, such as credits for service outages, time frames for installation and service appointments, reporting requirements and customer-complaint procedures.

Under the agreement, Verizon will provide the city with a private fiber-optic network for its public safety communications. In addition, the telco will provide funding for the city's Cable Bureau, which produces programming for two government channels, as well as Pittsburgh Community Television, the administrator for the city's public-access channel. Verizon also has agreed to carry two additional PEG channels, one of which will be used as an educational channel.

According to the mayor's office, legislation for approval of the cable franchise agreement is expected to be introduced in the Pittsburgh City Council on July 7.

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