After abandoning plans to launch a new advanced IPTV platform, Verizon has rolled out on a limited basis a new CPE upgrade for its existing pay TV system, which it’s calling Fios TV One.
The upgrade, which Verizon said has been deployed to a limited number of Fios subscribers in upstate New York and New York City; Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, Pa.; Massachusetts markets; Richmond, Va., and several other markets, includes a voice remote and secondary receivers that are WiFi connected, meaning they don’t have to be placed near coax.
There’s Netflix integration directly into the user interface. And the platform is 4K/UltraHD-capable.
Verizon said other Fios TV One markets will be announced later in December and January.
New Fios TV One subscribers will receive a 1 Gbps internet connection and landline phone for $79.99 a month. They’ll also receive a year of Amazon Prime service and a second-generation Amazon Echo device. Existing customers can upgrade at no additional uptick to their service charge, although they will be charged for equipment.
The upgrade is sorely needed, with Verizon’s once industry-leading pay TV platform lagging behind such similarly monikered next-gen systems as Comcast’s X1 and Altice One.
And the investment is a little surprising, given Verizon’s recent emphasis on 5G and vocalized abandonment of traditional pay TV bundling.
This stance was made clear in by exiting former CEO Lowell McAdam in 2017, when he told the company’s Yahoo Finance media division, “We made our bet several years ago before we bought AOL and Yahoo and combined them together to do Oath that we weren’t going to be investing in the linear TV model I’ve said this a couple of times, I think the linear model is dead, it’s just going to take a long time to die.”
Verizon lost 63,000 Fios TV users in the third quarter, lowering its subscriber base to 4.497 million.
Notably, Verizon just took a $4.5-billion writedown on its Oath assets.