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Verizon Launches FiOS TV; Signs Up First Major Market

Telco giant Verizon (opens in new tab) this week signed a 15-year pact with Fairfax County, Va., adjacent to Washington, D.C. It was the company's first approved franchise for its new fiber optic service TV (FiOS) in a major market. Verizon called the Northern Virginia deal--which encompasses more than 350,000 premises--a "bellwether" for its initial rollout plans.

Verizon also began signing up FiOS subscribers this week in the Dallas suburb of Keller. Its rate card (which may only pertain to Keller) features an Extended Basic package of approximately 180 analog-digital channels for about $40, beating cable and DBS's regular (non-introductory) price points for similar deals. Texas recently enacted a law-- the first in the country--making it far faster and easier to offer such telecom services in local jurisdictions (without the local red tape) throughout the second largest state in the nation.

Comcast's closest package in the same region goes for slightly more than $60, although a current limited-time deal is less than $50. Comcast also carries a more moderate option (compared to its own pricing) of 55-60 channels for approximately $42.

Verizon's FiOS HD package includes more than 20 channels, with an HD box going for $10--before the requisite fees and taxes. A combo HD-DVR box in Keller is being offered for $13 monthly. (A standard-definition STB runs $4.) Verizon helped fight in favor of a new Texas law that allows telecom parties to introduce services without the usual red tape typically required by local jurisdictions.

Keller is a suburb of about 30,000 residents, with more than 11,000 households. It's 90 percent non-Hispanic white with a median household income of about $86,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Verizon (which shares some of Keller with SBC) already boasts about 8,800 home subs for its already-established telephony and Internet broadband services.

Technically speaking, Verizon is constructing passive optical networks (PON) with fiber extending from central offices to un-powered hubs, in which the fiber is optically split up to 32 ways. The active components adhere to the ITU-T G.983 standard, also known as APON or BPON, which provides 622 MB downstream at 1490 NM, 155 MB upstream at 1310 NM, and RF video overlay at 1550 NM.

PON is a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP or FTTH) configuration in which un-powered optical splitters are used to enable a single optical fiber to serve multiple premises. Since FiOS does not carry its own electric charge, it is solely dependent on existing electrical outlets on the premises, for its power.

Other states, like New Jersey, also are reportedly considering laws similar to the one passed in Texas, to speed more competition on the local level. Laws or not, Verizon is already building FiOS infrastructure in at least 15 states, including Florida and California.