Charles County Closing on FiOS TV Franchise Agreement with Verizon - Southern Maryland Headline News

Charles County Closing on FiOS TV Franchise Agreement with Verizon

LA PLATA, Md. (April 23, 2009)—Charles County officials today announced that staff is wrapping up its ongoing negotiations with Verizon Communications for cable television services that will result in greater choice and increased competition for County residents while preserving important consumer protections for customers. In an agreement that is similar to an existing agreement with Comcast, the incumbent cable provider in Charles County, Verizon could begin signing on new customers in its initial service areas as early as this summer.

The proposed 15-year agreement will be presented to the County’s Cable Advisory Commission at a meeting to be held on April 30th, at 7 p.m. The Cable Advisory Commission will then hold a public hearing on the matter on May, 6th at 7 p.m. The Cable Advisory Commission will then forward the agreement, with any recommendations, to the County Commissioners for final acceptance.

The agreement calls for an initial “build-out” density of 30 homes per mile in the first three years of the agreement, to a density of 15 homes per mile by the end of the franchise. The planned build-out also includes about 6,000 homes that have not previously had access to cable service.

Under the agreement, Verizon will provide free cable service to fire stations, public schools, police stations, public libraries and other public buildings in its service area. Verizon is also committed to supporting the four County channels for Public, Educational, and Governmental (“PEG”) that are also on the Comcast system.

In addition to paying the county a cable franchise fee of 5% of annual gross revenue from its TV service, Verizon has agreed to contribute 1% of its gross revenues to help fund equipment for the PEG channels and the County’s Institutional Network (I-Net), plus an additional 0.6% for the first eight years of the agreement, and an initial grant of $250,000 to support future I-Net construction.

Verizon, like Comcast, will be subject to customer service standards that can be enforced by the County.

“We are pleased to have been able to work with Verizon to reach an agreement that will result in more choices for consumers, bring cable and other advanced services to previously unserved areas of Charles County while ensuring consumer protections for our residents,” said Paul Comfort, County Administrator for Charles County Government. “The results of this agreement will benefit Charles County residents as well as local Government” added Richard Aldridge, Chief Information Officer.

Verizon will build its upgraded “fiber-to-the-home” (“FTTH”) system to much of the county, providing a competitive alternative to Comcast. Charles County began negotiations with Verizon for cable television services last year. The tentative franchise agreement announced today is the result of those efforts.

The Cable Advisory Commission will hold its Public Hearing on May, 6th at 7 p.m., in the Commissioners’ Meeting Room of the Charles County Government Building, in La Plata. The agreement will be available for review, after the April 30th meeting, on the County’s website at .

Source: Charles County Commissioners

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